Independent Maps Plan To Appeal Redistricting Proposal To Illinois Supreme Court

Jul 20, 2016

A referendum that would have asked voters to change Illinois' redistricting process was rejected by an Illinois court Wednesday. However, members of the group Independent Maps said they will appeal to the state supreme court.

Independent Maps chairman Dennis FitzSimons.
Credit Sarah Mueller WUIS

 The proposal would give a special commission the power to draw state House and Senate boundaries, instead of legislators drawing the lines.

The group was dealt a blow when Cook County judge ruled the measure does not meet the Illinois Constitution's narrow options for voter initiatives. It said the proposal went beyond simply amending the structure and procedures of the legislature.

Jim Bray, spokesman for Independent Maps, said many Illinois residents want the redistricting process to change.

"More than 60 percent of Illinoisians say they want to have impartial redistricting, yet the legislators don't want that because they're the ones who get to draw the maps right now and they draw them to favor themselves," he said.

Bray said they're asking for a quick decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, because the deadline for ballot certification is August 26.

"While we would have liked to have won here, we knew that whoever lost here was going to take us to the Supreme Court and they will ultimately decide," he said.

The legal challenge was brought by the Peoples Map, a group that says minority voting rights would be diluted if it passes. But its lead attorney is a longtime associate of House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Illinois Democratic Party.

Peoples Map Chairman John Hooker said it "represents a victory for democracy and minority rights."

"This unconstitutional amendment would put a tremendous amount of authority in the hands of unelected middlemen unaccountable to the taxpayers," Hooker said.

Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, denounced the court decision.​He said the referendum has bipartisan support.

“We have it backwards in Illinois," he said in a statement. "Voters should be able to choose their elected officials through an independently-drawn map that ensures competitive elections. Instead, we have politicians choosing their voters, putting politics ahead of people."

A spokesman for Madigan deferred comments to the parties in the case.