The Illinois Supreme Court agreed Friday to quickly take up a case challenging the constitutionality of a ballot measure that could alter the way Illinois draws its political maps. Just 2 days after a Cook County judge ruled the redistricting question was unconstitutional for November’s ballot, the state’s high court granted an emergency motion for direct appeal and set a briefing schedule, bypassing the appellate court. A group called the Independent Map Amendment cited an Aug. 26 State Board of Elections deadline to get on the ballot in their request to the court. They’ve proposed an 11-member commission be in charge of drawing the state’s legislative boundaries, instead of party leaders. It’s the second time since 2014 supporters of redistricting reform have tried to get the high stakes issue before voters.
In both cases, an attorney linked to top Democrats in power filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality. A judge rejected the 2014 effort, which was also plagued by signature problems. This time around, backers – including businessmen and bipartisan leaders – said they refined their proposal and were better funded. They turned in more than 550,000 signatures to election officials, who determined that there appeared to be enough valid signatures for the ballot.
The lawsuit filed by prominent Chicago elections attorney Michael Kasper was brought on behalf of the People’s Map, a group of minority leaders who claim the current mapping process is better for minorities, though those arguments weren’t addressed in court. A People’s Map spokesman didn’t immediately return a message Friday. Kasper has been the lawyer for House Speaker Michael Madigan, the head of the state’s Democratic Party. A Madigan spokesman has said the leader isn’t involved in the lawsuit.
The court, which didn’t indicate if there’d be oral arguments, set deadlines for briefs on July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 9.