SPRINGFIELD – After the Illinois Supreme Court blocked a popular, bipartisan, citizen driven referendum to reform the state's redistricting process, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is calling on the Illinois General Assembly to give the people the right to vote on whether politicians should be allowed to continue to abuse the process of drawing legislative districts.
“The Constitution is supposed to protect the people from tyranny,” said Sen. Barickman. “Instead the entrenched political ruling class is now using that very document to silence the voice of democracy.”
On Wednesday, the Illinois Supreme Court, in a party-line vote, ruled that Illinois residents shouldn't be allowed to vote on whether to take the power to draw legislative districts away from the legislators themselves. The referendum, led by the grass-roots Independent Maps organization, would have ended the status quo of lawmakers choosing their voters, instead of voters choosing the lawmakers. The effort had garnered nearly 600,000 signatures throughout Illinois from people of all walks of life.
As part of his dissent, Justice Robert Thomas criticized the ruling and stated that, “The Illinois Constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it.”
The Supreme Court ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by a shadowy organization of Illinois Democrat insiders, including a lawyer who is regularly retained by Mike Madigan and the state party organization that he chairs.
Justice Thomas closed his dissent by saying, “Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this state, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled. I join that muted chorus of dissent”
“Let's keep in mind, Madigan's lawyers weren't suing to block an existing law or constitutional amendment that they disagreed with, they sued to stop the people of Illinois from being able to vote on an issue,” added Sen. Barickman.
Senator Barickman noted that redistricting reform has support among members of all political parties, and that President Barack Obama used part of his recent visit to the Illinois Capitol to speak in favor of the idea. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has repeatedly blocked redistricting reform proposals from even being heard in committees.
“Remember, the constitution doesn't outlaw redistricting reform, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the document doesn’t allow the people to take up that task themselves through referendum,” said Senator Barickman. “Nothing in the constitution would block the General Assembly from placing a bipartisan referendum on the ballot for the voters to decide. We can fix this right now.”