The Illinois Republican Party is working to oust an Illinois Supreme Court justice. During the most recent State Central Committee meeting, the ILGOP voted unanimously to formally recommend a vote of non-retention for Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride of the 3rd Judicial District. Justice Kilbride is up for retention on the November 2020 ballot and must meet the 60% retention threshold in order to keep his seat on the Illinois Supreme Court. Currently, Democrats have a narrow 4-3 majority on the court.
The GOP is recommending Kilbride’s removal due to his alleged ties to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan has allegedly made significant campaign contributions to Kilbride’s previous retention in 2010. According to an editorial cited by the IL GOP published in the Chicago Tribune in 2010, the Illinois Democratic Party has contributed $1.42 million to Kilbride’s campaign funds.
The GOP claims that Kilbride’s decisions on the bench have ruled against term limits for state offices, struck down pension reform, and struck down a measure for fair maps of state legislative districts in 2016. Kilbride served as chief justice of the court from 2010-2013.
Kilbride has worked since 2012 to install cameras in all of the state’s circuit courts and has pushed all circuits towards electronic filing of court documents in an effort to save time and money in circuits.
Supreme Court retention seats have no party affiliation on the ballot for voters. Kilbride has served on the Illinois Supreme Court since 2000 defeating state legislator Carl Hawkinson to succeed Republican James Heiple, who did not wish to seek retention. The Third District comprises North Central Illinois. The Third District is the only non-Chicago or collar county based district to have a Democrat on the bench.