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Illinois Supreme Court Won’t Hear Term Limits Appeal

John O'Connor / AP Political Writer
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Springfield, IL
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Supreme Court decided Thursday not to immediately consider whether voters should get a chance to limit terms for state legislators.

Without comment, the court took a pass on an appeal of a circuit court’s June ruling that barred the question from appearing on election ballots, along with a second proposal that would have asked voters if they wanted an independent way of drawing political boundaries.

But Mark Campbell, executive director of Term Limits and Reform, said proponents would file Friday for a hearing with a state appellate court.

Constitutional questions decided in circuit courts go directly to the Supreme Court. Campbell said the high court’s decision Thursday simply indicates that justices want the matter to wend its way through the typical process.

The appeal will seek an expedited hearing, with deadlines approaching for printing ballots for the Nov. 4 election, Campbell said.

“No matter who wins or loses at the appellate level, it’s going to wind up in front of the Supreme Court anyway,” Campbell said.

The decision appears to be a setback, at least momentarily, for the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Bruce Rauner. He has made term limits a touchstone in his campaign to “shake up Springfield.”

The Winnetka businessman’s group, the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, proposed sending legislators home after 8 years in office. It would also change the sizes of the House and Senate and make it more difficult for the General Assembly to override a governor’s veto.

A Rauner spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A lawsuit filed by a lawyer for top Democratic officeholders on behalf of business leaders argued that the plan did not meet the constitutional requirements that such initiatives make “structural” and “procedural” changes to the Legislature. The lawsuit claimed that the plan would improperly change rules for seeking office and affect the governor’s powers.

Cook County Judge Mary Mikva ruled June 27 that the idea didn’t meet necessary requirements. She declared that the various parts of the plan were unrelated, while she also tossed a plan to set up a new way of drawing political boundaries to remove it from the “winner take all” process conducted by the Legislature. Mapmaking reformers decided not to contest Mikva’s decision.

Rauner’s Democratic opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn, as a candidate for secretary of state in 1994, led a push to limit legislative terms, but that failed to get court approval for the same reason. He has refused to back Rauner’s push because as part of the structural change, it would increase the size of the Illinois House. Quinn also led a 1980 effort, which succeeded, to reduce the number of House members.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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