The remapping of Illinois continues to draw critics, this time for new maps of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Illinois’ Supreme Court district maps have not been redrawn since 1963. The Senate and House Redistricting Committees today released a proposed map of new Illinois Supreme Court boundaries. House and Senate Democrats say that it brings the districts into compliance with the state’s population shifts.
According to a press release today, the maps is allegedly equalizing the population and demographic shifts that have occurred in the state of Illinois over the course of the last sixty years. Currently, population fluctuates greatly between districts. According to the release’s statistics, the current Second District contains 3.2 million people, while the current Fourth and Fifth Districts contain under 1.3 million people. The map was drawn using the American Community Survey’s 5 year population estimate from 2019. The ACS data has been refuted by many groups and Illinois Republicans as being flawed and inaccurate.
According to Illinois Democrats, the new map will not impact the tenure of the current Appellate and Supreme Court justices. All justices running for retention will have the right to do so in their current districts. Further, this map avoids disruption to the Judicial Branch by ensuring that the Appellate Courts can remain where they currently reside and avoid changing the compositions or boundaries of the Judicial Circuits.
The current Illinois 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th districts will largely be swallowed up into 2 new districts. Those 4 districts stretch from the northern and southern border of the state, and are largely considered “downstate” by Chicago politicians. The I-80 corridor and the south suburbs are drawn into their own district, while the west and north suburbs get their own Supreme Court district. The city of Chicago would largely be on its own. Chairman of Citizens for Judicial Fairness Jim Nowlan said in a release today in summary that he found the new map frightening and gerrymandered to wrest control of all 3 branches of Illinois government.
Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Joe Hackler released the following statement in response: “Today’s announcement of the redrawing of the Illinois Supreme Court map is the latest example of the extraordinary lengths the corrupt political class will go to keep control of power. For the first time in the state’s history, a Supreme Court justice was removed from the Court because of his ties to the Democrat machine. Now, in an effort to maintain their stranglehold on the Supreme Court and thwart much needed reform, that same corrupt political class is rigging the maps to stay in power, redrawing the map for the first time in fifty years. This is a brazen abuse of our judicial system and nothing more than political gamesmanship with what should be an independent court, free of corrupt influence.”
Republicans in the state had largely expected a re-map after Justice Thomas Kilbride became the first just to lose a retention bid in the state. Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin on Monday told reporters he expected an effort by Democrats to redraw the court’s boundaries given Kilbride’s defeat.
The public has the opportunity to provide input on this proposed map at four scheduled redistricting committee hearings between the House and the Senate this week.