From the Illinois Supreme Court –– Despite backers gathering the signatures of 600,000 citizens across the state, that wanted a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, that would have taken the power to draw legislative boundaries away from the political parties, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Hooker v the State Board of Elections, that the effort violates the Illinois Constitution’s provision that constitutional amendments produced through a ballot initiative “shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” [of the Illinois Constitution ].
This effort to have a nonpartisan commission to draw political districts was a pillar of Gov Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” and one that he frequently said was supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike. Perhaps anticipating this decision, Gov Rauner of late has been calling for the Illinois General Assembly to put the proposed Constitutional Amendment the ballot.
Following the decision, the Gov released a statement that said in part, “Today’s court decision to deny Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum does nothing to stem the outflow or change people’s views of how the system is rigged and corrupt.”
But for now, the effort that many had hoped would be on the November ballot is dead.
The four member majority [ Justices Kilbride, Freeman, Burke, and Thess ] concluded, “Even when concerned citizens legitimately attempt to exercise their constitutional right to seek changes in their state government through ballot initiatives, this court is constrained by the expressed intent of the framers of our constitution to review the propriety of only the specific provisions in the proposal before it. In conducting that review, we must first and foremost look to the plain language adopted by the framers. That is the most certain route to determining the framers’ intent. ¶ 48
http://Link to Full Decision
In this case, our inquiry is limited to the intent expressed by the plain language of article XIV, section 3. The intent demonstrated by both the plain constitutional language and this court’s prior case law imposes clear restrictions on the scope of permissible ballot initiatives. As both parties expressly acknowledge, the wisdom of placing before the voters of this state any particular ballot initiative seeking reform of the redistricting process, as well as the workability of that reform, is – 22 – irrelevant to this limited issue and not a matter properly before this court. We may not ignore our mandate by simply deferring to the redistricting approach proffered by a particular ballot proposal, no matter how appealing it may be. It is our role to review all ballot initiatives for constitutional merit only, and we will examine all future ballot initiative proposals brought before this court on the merit of their particular provisions. ¶ 49
And later the majority inserts...
“[t]he controlling legal principles are settled. The prior constitutions of this State did not provide for amendment through the direct initiative process. ([CBA I], 137 Ill. 2d at 398.) The Framers of the 1970 Illinois Constitution intended article XIV, section 3, to be a very limited form of constitutional initiative. The Framers considered that a general initiative provision was unnecessary due to the liberalized amendment procedures of the new constitution. ([CBA I], 137 Ill. 2d at 401.) ***. Based on the Framers’ concerns, article XIV, section 3, provides only for amendment of the legislative article, article IV. Further, not every aspect of the legislative article is subject to amendment through the initiative process. Rather, “ ‘ “Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” ’
Here, after closely examining the framers’ carefully chosen language, as previously interpreted by this court, we conclude the ballot initiative in this case fails to comport with the restrictions incorporated into article XIV, section 3, to protect the integrity of this state’s constitution.