The Independent Map Amendment coalition will appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court to get its citizen-led redistricting reform initiative on the November ballot.
Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Larsen Wednesday struck down the proposal, which would allow voters to decide whether to take politicians out of the legislative map-making process. Her opinion states the proposed amendment goes beyond what citizen-led amendments can do.
Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of the Independent Map Amendment, said the coalition will file for an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court.
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“We are disappointed that Judge Larsen has ruled against the Independent Map Amendment and the 564,000 Illinois residents who signed a petition to change a broken system and eliminate the inherent conflict of interest where politicians draw their own legislative districts,” he said.
The initiative is being challenged in court by the group The People’s Map. John Hooker, the group's chairman, said in a statement the proposal puts authority in the hands of middlemen, not elected officials.
Independent Map Amendment spokesman Jim Bray said that’s an argument Hooker should make before the election, not in court.
“What we have right now and what he likes is that the legislators themselves draws the maps, and that’s an obvious conflict of interest,” Bray said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a statement saying the ruling is a harsh reminder the political system in Illinois is in major need of reform.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that The People’s Map Ballot Initiative Committee has no campaign disclosures despite several unions reporting donations to the group.
Bray said the Independent Map Amendment coalition has received $4 million in contributions from around the state.
“The majority of contributions that come in are in the small category, but we’ll take any size, and the opponents operate in the dark,” he said. “They’re not the least transparent. They’ve filed statements saying they received nothing and they’ve spent nothing."
Bray said the money Independent Map Amendment coalition has collected will be used for an education campaign and to defend the amendment at the state Supreme Court.
The deadline to get the measure on the ballot is Aug. 26.