Illinois Supreme Court

Statehouse
9:45 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Pension Case Could Change Illinois' Credit Rating

The fate of Illinois' pension system rests in the upcoming Supreme Court decision.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

There's a reason analysts say Illinois has the nation's lowest credit rating. It has the nation's largest unfunded pension liability. A 2013 law that’s facing a challenge before the Illinois Supreme Court is intended to help.

Illinois is facing a budget hole in the billions, thanks to a rollback of the income tax. If the high court tosses out the pension law, there'll be more fiscal pressure.

Analysts like Moody's Ted Hampton say the rating won't likely drop further, even if the justices toss the law because the rating already presumes the law cannot be implemented.

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State Week
2:17 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 13, 2015

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Arguments before the Illinois Supreme Court on the state's pension reform law.

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Pensions
11:34 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Pension Case Reaches Climax At Supreme Court

Credit Amanda Vinicky

The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.

Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.

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State of the State Blog
6:08 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

When Will The Illinois Supreme Court Decide Pension Case?

The Illinois Supreme Court bench in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

There's a simple rule of thumb for determining when the Illinois Supreme Court will rule on a given case, and it's that there is no rule of thumb for determining when the Illinois Supreme Court will rule on a given case.

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Pensions
1:03 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Supreme Court Schedules Pension Arguments For March 11

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the state's landmark pension-overhaul case on March 11.

Arguments will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the high court chamber in downtown Springfield.  

The Illinois General Assembly and former Gov. Pat Quinn adopted a plan in late 2013 designed to cut into the $111 billion deficit in four state pension programs built by years of underfunding.  

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Illinois Issues - State Of The State
12:00 am
Sun February 1, 2015

Supreme Tort: The Campaign To Fire Justice Lloyd Karmeier

Justice Lloyd Karmeier was targeted for defeat by just seven lawyers and law firms.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

A version of this story appears in the February 2015 edition of Illinois Issues magazine.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
2:57 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Court Rejects Request To Delay Pension Case

It took legislators - here, meeting in a conference committee - years to reach a compromise on a pension overhaul; the law they finally passed is facing a constitutional challenge.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The fate of Illinois' pension law will stay on the fast track. Illinois' Supreme Court justices today rejected a request for a delay.

It can take a long time for a case to wend its way through the courts. But after a Sangamon County judge in November ruled Illinois' overhaul of public worker pensions unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on an expedited basis.

On Tuesday, lawyers contesting the law tried to slow it down by a month.

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Pensions
7:50 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Potential Pension Case Holdup

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

As they seek to permanently toss Illinois' pension overhaul, state employees and retirees are asking the state Supreme Court for more time to make their arguments. Lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

It's a case that's supposed to be on the fast track: After a Sangamon County judge in November found Illinois' pension law unconstitutional, the Attorney General appealed straight to the state supreme court -- which agreed to hear it on an expedited basis.

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Statehouse
5:55 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Quinn Pardons Man Wrongfully Convicted Of ISU Student's Murder

Gov. Pat Quinn has pardoned a man who spent more than a decade in prison before DNA evidence cleared him in the 1993 murder of his girlfriend.  

Quinn's 232 granted clemency petitions announced Friday included one for Alan Beaman. It's Quinn's first innocence-based pardon.  

Beaman was convicted in the strangulation death of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller and spent 13 years in prison. He was serving a 50-year sentence when the Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 2008, and DNA testing pointed to two previously unknown suspects.  

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Judicial System Threatened?
12:21 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Karmeier Keeps Seat ... Barely, After Big Money Race

Justice Lloyd Karmeier
Credit Illinois Supreme Court

The sole Illinois Supreme Court justice who was on the ballot in last month's election was sworn in for a second term this morning. Official results released last night by the Illinois State Board of Elections show just how close Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier was to losing his seat, after an election that saw hefty spending on both sides.

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Statehouse
7:12 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Madigan Says Court Could Rule On Pensions In January

Credit Marsy's Law for Illinois

Attorney General Lisa  Madigan says if the state supreme court agrees to an expedited hearing...  a ruling on the state's pension law could come by January,.

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Statehouse
6:25 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Narrowly Avoids Getting Thrown Out of Office

Credit Illinois Supreme court

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier appears to have survived an attempt to unseat him by a group of attorneys and law firms. 

Karmeier finished less than 1 percentage point above the 60 percent he needed for retention with more than 99 percent of Tuesday's votes counted. Several counties still were counting absentee and provisional ballots.  

Karmeier campaign chief Ron Deedrick says in a statement that Karmeier believes he has won. He says the campaign is ``cautiously optimistic that the numbers may continue to edge up'' in Karmeier's favor.  

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Election 2014
6:20 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

The Lone Justice Fighting For Retention

Justice Lloyd Karmeier, who was elected a decade ago, is now up for retention; an organization calling itself "Campaign 2016" is trying to unseat him.
Credit Illinois Supreme Court

There's a last-minute push to unseat one of Illinois' Supreme Court justices. That's difficult to do -- a sitting judge doesn't have to win a race. He just has to get 60-percent of voters' to agree to his retention.

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Statehouse
6:47 am
Fri August 29, 2014

State Retirees To Stop Paying Health Premiums

A Sangamon County judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Illinois from collecting higher health care insurance premiums from retired state employees.

In a 6-to-1 ruling in July, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the state to require retirees to pay for a portion of their own health care. The court said state-subsidized health insurance is a protected pension benefit and the state cannot charge premiums for it.  

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Illinois Supreme Court
5:45 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Building Reveals $16 Million Improvement Project

The doorway that separates the courtroom from the Justices' meeting room.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will start conducting its business in Springfield once again next month. The justices had been displaced for the past year while their building was renovated, restoring the building to many of its original design features.

For most of the last year, the court building, across from the State Capitol in Springfield, was separated from the public by orange plastic fencing and lots of construction dust.

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Term limits
3:45 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Appellate Court Confirms: Term Limits Not Eligible For Ballot

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  For the second time, a court has deemed unconstitutional a citizen's initiative to would limit how long Illinois lawmakers can serve.

First, it was a Cook County Circuit Court judge.

Now, the decision is from a state appellate court.

Both say the question of term limits for state legislators should not go before voters on the November ballot.

The state Constitution says citizen's initiatives, like this one, must be limited to "structural and procedural" changes to the legislature.

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Election 2014
7:36 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Rauner Pressures Illinois Supreme Court To Rule On Term Limits

Bruce Rauner is putting political pressure on the Illinois Supreme Court to deal with questions over the legality of his term limits citizen's initiative; over a half million voter signatures were submitted so it could get on the November ballot, but a lower court has ruled the wording unconstitutional.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Backers of a plan to institute legislative term limits in Illinois are putting public pressure on the state Supreme Court to get involved, and soon.

Republican candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner calls it "tragic" that the Illinois Supreme Court, as he put it, "went into delaying mode" instead of immediately taking up a case over the term limits initiative.

But Rauner, who has spearheaded the effort, stopped short of calling the court's choice political.

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Statehouse
5:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Supreme Court Won't Take Up Term Limits

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

  An effort to institute term limits in Illinois has hit a major road block. The state Supreme Court says it will not rush to hear the case.

 The Supreme Court's decision could be the end of Republican Bruce Rauner's term limits initiative.

Limiting how long legislators can be in Illinois' General Assembly has been a staple of his campaign for governor.

That takes a change in the constitution. Rauner's group collected over a half million signatures so that question could be put to voters on the November ballot.

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Pensions
11:26 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Ruling Puts Pension Overhaul In Doubt

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court says free health care is a protected retirement benefit for certain government employees. It was cause for celebration among those who’ve opposed Illinois' attempts to save money by cutting retirement benefits. But Illinois' pension battles are far from over.

Many state retirees used to get premium-free health insurance. When the law was changed to make them pay, a group of them sued.

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Statehouse
12:32 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Judge Nixes Term Limit, Remap Initiatives

Credit flickr/Brian Turner

A Cook County judge has ruled that signature-driven ballot measures calling for legislative term limits and a new political redistricting process can't appear on the November ballot.
 
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says in a Friday ruling the measures don't meet constitutional requirements to make the ballot.
 
The ruling is a setback for groups advocating the measures, including one led by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner.  He's made term limits
a cornerstone of his campaign to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
 

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Eavesdropping law
5:10 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Lawmakers Work To Replace Illinois' Eavesdropping Law

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  Since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state's eavesdropping law in March, it's been legal to record audio of someone without asking permission. But legislators are working on a replacement.

The Supreme Court found the old law overly broad. It was a crime even to record in public, where people shouldn't really have an expectation of privacy. Because of that, Illinois' law was considered one of the strictest in the nation.

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Regional
4:16 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Reprimands Springfield Alderman

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield attorney and Ward 5 alderman Sam Cahnman has received a censure from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The move follows a recommendation the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission made last year.  The Commission says Cahnman intentionally misled an Associate Circuit Judge about how he gained possession of a page from the judge's private calendar.  Cahnman has denied that charge.    

James Grogan is with the Commission.  He says Illinois' high court issues a censure when there has been a violation of the lawyer's ethics code.

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Statehouse
12:05 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Arizona Pension Case Could Chart Course for Illinois

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

A court case decided in Arizona Thursday could have implications for Illinois' ongoing legal battle over pensions. The decision (pdf), by the Arizona Supreme Court, struck down an attempt to reduce Arizona officials' retirement benefits.

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Statehouse
10:55 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Justices Get Campaign Money From Groups Involved In Pension Battle

Credit flickr/RandyvonLiski

A published report says groups with ties to the pension-reform law adopted last month have contributed close to $3 million to Illinois Supreme Court justices who might decide its fate.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1aqJQ5n ) that six of seven justices have taken money in the past 13 years from labor unions, business groups and a political committee controlled by Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.  
Retired teachers have sued to stop the pension-reform plan that cuts retiree benefits to reduce a $100 billion debt.  

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Pensions
4:52 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Madigan: Courts Could Pick And Choose On Pension Plan

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan presents the conference committee report on Senate Bill 1, the legislation overhauling Illinois pensions. Madigan says "hopefully the Court will rule in favor of the constitutionality of the bill."
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois legislators may have passed a pension overhaul, but unions representing teachers and public employees have vowed to sue to stop it from taking effect. If they're successful, that could force lawmakers to go back to the drawing board.

Lawmakers made preemptive efforts to fend off a legal challenge. The measure contains a statement that details the terrible condition of Illinois' finances and what lawmakers have tried to do about it -- a clear attempt to justify cutting pension benefits.

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Statehouse
3:27 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Amazon Tax'

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday struck down the so-called "Amazon tax." The decision could pave the way for businesses to make more money online.

The law was intended to force Internet retailers to collect Illinois sales tax.

Even if such companies didn't have an office or physical store here, they might have had Illinois "affiliates." That would be a website that linked to a product on, say, Amazon.com, and got a small kickback for every sale.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Cameras in Courts: More Than Half the State's Judicial Circuits Participate in Pilot Program

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

After the media frenzy at the 1930s trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, the American Bar Association enacted policies barring radio, newsreels and photo cameras from trials. Federal and state courts followed suit. For more than 70 years, reporters could only use pen and paper. But as technology changed, states began to allow electronic media into their supreme, appellate and circuit courts.

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Illinois Supreme Court
6:30 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Should State Retirees Pay For Health Insurance?

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

Retired state workers who collect pensions in Illinois started paying health insurance premiums this summer. That's because of a change in the law last year — previously health insurance was free for anyone who retired with at least 20 years of service.

A number of retirees sued over the change. The case was argued Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court.

A few months ago, Illinois began collecting one percent of pension income from retirees who are eligible for Medicare, two percent from those who aren't.

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Concealed Carry
11:03 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Gun Conviction, Keeps Ban For Minors

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois' old law banning the concealed carry of firearms took another hit Thursday. A federal court already found it unconstitutional last year. Now the Illinois Supreme Court has taken the same position.

Alberto Aguilar was 17 when Chicago police arrested him for having a loaded handgun with the serial number scratched off.

He was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and sentenced to 24 months probation.

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