U.S. Supreme Court's possible challenge to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Illinoisans should pay attention to how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a case challenging how Wisconsin Republicans gerrymandered legislative districts in their favor. While it would be a setback for Wisconsin Republicans it could also be a setback for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and the Democrats who have benefited from his gerrymandering of Illinois House districts.

The  Wisconsin case, to be heard in the fall,  challenges how  the Republican-controlled

An example of Illinois' cockeyed congressional districts.

An example of Illinois’ cockeyed congressional districts.

legislature drew its districts to benefit the GOP.  In Illinois, Madigan’s control for years of the redistricting process has resulted in cockeyed districts that favor Democrats, especially incumbents, a violation in my opinion of the U.S. and Illinois constitutions. The process has made a mockery of those documents’ requirement that legislative districts must be “compact” and “contiguous.” Instead, many districts snake around in contorted shapes that are anything but compact and contiguous.

Here’s a great analysis from the Decator Heard and Review laying out how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision could affect Illinois’ redistricting process.

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN that this case could have “enormous ramifications.”

“Although a majority of the court has suggested that states can violate the Constitution if they draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, the justices have never been able to identify the specific point at which states cross the constitutional line. In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line,” he told CNN.


Leave a comment
  • Your CNN quote didn't get to the legal basis of the last paragraph. To this point, the Supreme Court generally held that political gerrymandering, unlike racial gerrymandering was constitutional, with Justice Scalia even indicating that it was not justicible.

    Presumably, your friend at the Sun-Times, Mark Brown, laid out the proper analysis. Note that the expert he quoted indicated that Illinois has nowhere near the "efficiency gap" that Wisconsin does, and is essentially neutral, based on the standard being argued in the Wisconsin case.

    Also, the "compact, contiguous" requirement is only in Art. IV sec. 3(a) of the Illinois Constitution, not a federal requirement, so you would have to convince the Illinois Supreme Court that the 2011 redistricting was unconstitutional. Good luck with that.

    In short, there are at least 2 reasons why the result of your analysis has worse odds that the Bears winning Super Bowl LII or the White Sox winning the 2017 Fall Classic.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, you're lost in the thicket of legal arguments, even if your analysis is correct, and I'l give you that. I'm writing from the larger viewpoint: Is it right? Diminishing someone's vote (one man, one-third vote) for political purposes in order to benefit a partisan's benefit is wrong. The meaning of contiguous and compact has been trampled way beyond the meaning of common sense. The result of redistricting based on such partisan compulsions is clearly visible in Illinois's desperate straits.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    No, it isn't right, but you can't rely on the Supreme Court and again ignore the legal position.

    But speaking of "one man, one-third vote," were you demonstrating in Selma for the Voting Rights Act?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Similarly, are you an effective activist for repealing the Electoral College? That should be done to assure one person one vote, but the Supreme Court can't do it for you.

  • From a strictly partisan point of view, Dennis, your view of a possible Supreme Court overturn of Illinois' highly partisan re-districting would be the logical equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bath water. There are so MANY Republican states that are much more egregiously partisan in their reapportionment (i.e. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and the list goes on!) that it is entirely possible that the end result of getting rid of Speaker Madigan would result in getting rid of Speaker Ryan as well!

  • In reply to HHH Is My Hero:

    H, I would be more than delighted if the Republican states would have their egregiously partisan districts tossed out with the bath water. Do not assume that because many of my positions are conservative that I'm also a rigidly partisan Republican. If I might deploy another saying: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." Illinois and America are in excessively partisan straightjackets, no matter what the party.

  • One of the unfortunate aspects of partisan gamesmanship is that it invites retaliation. The whole point of gerrymandering is to insure the political domination of one party over the other. One would think that this would make the loser in the reapportionment "game" more sensitive, more determined to make the system fair if and when it got the chance. But it never seems to work this way.

    I am totally confident that if the Republicans found a way to oust Mike Madigan as Speaker of the Illinois House and replace him with one of their own, the first thing they'd do is gerrymander the political map of Illinois to make sure that the Democrats NEVER got a chance to regain political power in this state.

    Unless and until we have national standards of non-partisan fairness in the way we apportion states and in the way we elect public officials, we will have egregiously re-districted political entities. We need an even political field everywhere in this country and we can't rely on the political hacks who control things now to give it to us!

  • In reply to HHH Is My Hero:

    "I am totally confident that if the Republicans found a way to oust Mike Madigan as Speaker of the Illinois House and replace him with one of their own, the first thing they'd do is gerrymander the political map of Illinois to make sure that the Democrats NEVER got a chance to regain political power in this state."

    History shows that the attempt was made. The Illinois Constitution has in Art. IV sec. 3(b) a mechanism that if the legislature can't pass a plan, there is a commission equally divided between the parties, and if it fails, the Secretary of State draws the name of the 9th commissioner, a process known as "out of Lincoln's hat." One time the Republicans won.The second, the Democrats won, but things went in a direction that Lincoln's hat was never needed again.The issue would never have come up if the subsection had not been prefaced with the legislature getting the first stab at it.

    Of course, while this is in the Legislature article, Madigan has trotted out lawyers to make sure that Article XIV sec. 3 (CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE FOR LEGISLATIVE ARTICLE) can never be applied to it.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Visit my new website

    I'm a freelance writer, editor and author. I can help you with a wide variety of projects. Check out my new website at www.dennisbyrne.net

  • Subscribe to The Barbershop

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Dennis Byrne’s Facebook Fan Page

  • Like me on Facebook

  • Our National Debt

  • Twitter

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • /Users/dennisby/Desktop/trailer.mp4
  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: