Illinois Democrats, just days after releasing new legislative maps, are now proposing new Supreme Court districts.
The current state Supreme Court maps were drawn in 1963 and have not been updated since. The state Constitution allows for Supreme Court districts to be redrawn at any time, but lawmakers have traditionally used boundaries of the circuit, appellate and Supreme Court laid out in a 1963 overhaul of Illinois’ court system.
Democrats say redrawing the districts was necessary to make populations in them equal.
“The boundaries for Illinois Supreme Court districts have not been updated for several decades, it’s time we make changes in recognition of the population changes and demographic shifts that have taken place since the 1960s,” said Omar Aquino, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee in a press release. Illinois is a very different state than it was sixty years ago, and the voters of Illinois deserve to elect members to our state’s highest court that reflect their values.”
Last fall in the 3rd District, Justice Thomas Kilbride became the first Supreme Court justice to lose retention. His defeat came as Republican allies attacked his ties to former House Speaker Michael Madigan.
John Pastuovic, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, said he thinks Kilbride’s defeat set things in motion.
“It is clear to me that the Democrats have initiated this first in 50-year judicial remap in reaction to their 3rd District retention loss in 2020 and concern that they could lose that seat to the Republicans in 2022,” said Pastuovic. “Calling for new Supreme Court maps because of a population disparity is a convenient narrative. It is also disingenuous.”
The Democrats unveiled a map that would split up the Chicago suburbs into two court districts.
The 3rd District where Kilbride lost retention would become more compact with DuPage County joining Will County.
The 4th District would be massive, stretching from Rockford all the way down to just north of Metro East. And the 5th District would take in east-central Illinois along with southern Illinois.
Democrats say 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 existing districts.