CHICAGO (AP) — A referendum allowing Illinois voters to decide if an independent commission should draw the state’s political boundaries was struck down by a judge Wednesday who ruled that it was unconstitutional for the November ballot.
The 37-page written decision by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen was the second setback to advocates of redistricting reform since 2014 when a judge threw out a similar proposal. Both times an attorney linked to Illinois’ top Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, filed lawsuits claiming the plans weren’t constitutional.
The latest measure by the Independent Map Amendment group proposed an 11-member commission take over drawing legislative boundaries, instead of leaving the process to party leaders. Commission members would be chosen through a complex process involving the state auditor general and potentially Illinois Supreme Court members. Backers, including business and bipartisan political leaders, said they learned from the failed attempt and were better funded. They recently launched a $1 million summer ad campaign.
The group, which claims the once-a-decade redrawing of political districts is too political, vowed Wednesday to file an expedited appeal to the state’s highest court.
“A great deal of care went into crafting an amendment that follows constitutional guidelines while also creating a system that is independent, fair, transparent, and protects the ability of minority communities to elect candidates of their choosing,” Independent Maps chairman Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement. “We believe that the Illinois Supreme Court will side with Illinois voters and not deny citizens the opportunity to vote on this amendment.”