Pritzker bans outside donors ahead of Illinois Supreme Court races
Gov. JB Pritzker banned “black money” from the Illinois court election after record spending toppled a longtime Madigan ally of the Illinois Supreme Court. Voters will soon decide on more vacancies in higher courts.
Gov. JB Pritzker signed new legislation in November that prohibits Illinois presidential candidates from receiving campaign money from out-of-state contributors and groups with anti-government policies. donor confidentiality.
Law targeting so-called ‘black money’ groups prevents a fierce 2022 electoral cycle that will see four judicial seats under consideration and ultimately determine the balance of power on the Illinois Supreme Court in the next decade.
It also comes in the wake of a record-breaking 2020 retention election that saw Republican donors and business interests overthrow Democratic Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride. The retention referendum was the costliest in U.S. history and marks the first time Illinois voters have overthrown a judge since the adoption of the retention election in 1964.
The seven-member high court currently maintains a 4-to-3 Democratic majority, giving the party dominance over all three branches of the Illinois government. Democrats have held an unbroken majority on the ground for 52 years.
Edwardsville Democrat and sponsor of legislation, State Representative Katie Stuart, said the policy “will prevent out-of-state and untraceable money from making its way into our court races to maintain the integrity of these judicial elections “.
But Republicans said Democrats’ policy was aimed at strengthening the majority’s grip on the court after Kilbride’s surprise defeat.
“It’s another effort for the majority to change the rules of the game because they don’t like the outcome,” GOP Representative Ryan Spain from Peoria told the House.
A senior campaign finance expert said that no matter what the intentions of lawmakers, the law is unlikely to do much to stem the flow of money from powerful interests trying to influence the highest court in Canada. the state.
“This is basically a kind of good-feeling, virtue-like legislation,” said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He said the law targeting individual candidates’ campaign funds does nothing to stop independent spending committees, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they don’t coordinate with candidates or their campaigns.
Redfield said the law raises free speech and due process concerns about steps the state can take to restrict fundraising by judicial candidates in the name of preserving impartiality courts.
Even if the bans survive litigation, he said the logistical challenges of setting and tracking contributions under the Illinois State Board of Elections would remain.
After the majority party passes the first remap of Illinois’ five judicial districts in more than 50 years, the seats temporarily held by Republican Michael Burke and Democrat Robert Carter will run for election next year. Republican Rita Garman and Democrat Mary Jane Theis also face retention votes once a decade.