It took the U.S. Supreme Court to do it, but some Cook County property owners now will be able to challenge their tax assessments in federal court.
That became an issue because those Cook County taxpayers believed they were being unfairly denied an effective means in state courts to challenge tax breaks that were available to certain other taxpayers.
In Pappas v. A.F. Moore & Associates Inc., the high court let stand a 7th circuit federal appeals court decision that allowed the plaintiffs to exercise their 14th Amendment equal-protection right to challenge the methodology used by the Cook County tax assessor. The unanimous decision by the appeals was written by then-appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett before her elevation to the Supreme Court.
Some local governments opposed the right of the plaintiffs to argue their case before a federal court, warning that it would cost millions of dollars in refunds to small businesses and others that believed they were excluded from using the same appeal process as other, more favored taxpayers.
Barrett wrote in her opinion that the plaintiffs should have access to the federal court because they were denied an adequate state court remedy.
How sad is it that people who live, work and own property in Cook County have to again turn to the federal government for redress from the local muck. Just like it is up to the federal Justice Department to ferret out the deeply rooted public corruption.