Potential Pension Case Holdup

Jan 20, 2015

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

As they seek to permanently toss Illinois' pension overhaul, state employees and retirees are asking the state Supreme Court for more time to make their arguments. Lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

It's a case that's supposed to be on the fast track: After a Sangamon County judge in November found Illinois' pension law unconstitutional, the Attorney General appealed straight to the state supreme court -- which agreed to hear it on an expedited basis.

That quick timeline had Attorney General Lisa Madigan turning in a brief earlier this month, arguing the state can use its "police powers" to reduce benefits. It was accompanied by ten other “friend of the court” amicus briefs boosting her position, from groups ranging from the City of Chicago to the Civic Federation. In, all, 315 pages in support of the law.

"There are some new arguments and these briefs are somewhat voluminous, and so of course we need a reasonable amount of time to evaluate these briefs," said John Fitzgerald, a lawyer who represents retired teachers."Although we believe that the arguments raised by the amici need to be evaluated and responded to, we do not believe that any of those arguments have any merit; we do not believe that the amici have raised any arguments that should change the outcome of this case."

He and the team of lawyers representing current and retired state workers, teachers and university employees are supposed to have their briefs to the court by February 16th. They're asking to extend that deadline by a month, making them due March 16.