Three Illinois Supreme Court nominees back on the ballot following judge’s ruling – Chicago Tribune
A Cook County judge put a Democrat and two Republicans vying for a spot on the Illinois Supreme Court on the ballot Thursday after the Illinois state Board of Elections expelled them on last month for not having enough nomination signatures.
Cook County Judge Maureen Hannon’s ruling is the latest twist in an unusual saga to fill a vacant seat last held by Judge Robert Thomas, a retired former Chicago Bears kicker. from the bench in 2020.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, a Democrat, and former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and Illinois Appeals Judge Susan Hutchinson, both Republicans, were dropped from the ballot last month. last when the electoral commission accepted opponents who argued that the three candidates had not acquired enough. signatures of registered voters in the 2nd Judicial District, which covers a portion of northern Illinois that includes DeKalb, Kendall, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.
The election commission‘s decision overruled a hearing officer who agreed with the candidates that they had, in fact, obtained enough signatures and ruled that their names should appear on the June 28 primary ballot.
In her six-page decision, Hannon wrote that disagreements over the number of signatures needed were the result of different interpretations of the law and noted that running for office is “a substantive right not to be lightly denied.”
“Ballot access laws in Illinois should be interpreted liberally and barriers to candidacy should be interpreted strictly,” Hannon wrote.
The decision strengthens the competition for the seat, which now has seven candidates – four Republicans and three Democrats. Rotering is one of the best-known candidates for the seat. She ran statewide four years ago when she made an unsuccessful bid for Illinois attorney general.
“This effort to distract from the real issues that matter to voters has failed,” Rotering said in a statement. “Fighting for fairness is why I’m in this race.”
At issue was the interpretation of the law that dictates whether judicial candidates have enough petition signatures to appear in court. A specific mathematical formula is used based on the results of the previous governor’s race to determine the number of signatures needed. But the law also stipulates that a candidate must obtain at least 500 signatures.
Lawyers for Rotering, Curran and Hutchinson have continually argued that it would be inappropriate to determine the eligibility of ballot candidates based on the results of the 2018 general election, as the new boundaries of the 2nd Judicial District were redrawn the year last by the Illinois General Assembly. Instead, lawyers applied the mathematical formula to the 500-signature requirement and determined that applicants only needed at least 334 signatures.
“In this particular election cycle, the circulation period has been reduced from 90 days to 60 days, and as a result of this change, all signature requirements at all levels have been reduced by a third,” Ed said. Mullen, an attorney for the Candidates’ Legal Counsel. team, pleaded before Hannon in a Zoom-based court hearing on Thursday. “So when we talk about 500 in this law, that equates to 334 signatures for the purposes of this election cycle alone.”
Hutchinson ended up with 702 valid signatures, while Curran received 670 and Rotering got 669. But opponents who challenged their candidacies argued that the candidates’ lawyers misinterpreted case law to support their argument, instead claiming that Rotering needed at least 757 to run as a Democrat. and the other two each needed 791 to run as Republicans.
This claim by opponents is based on 2018 general election results for five counties that make up the new 2nd Judicial District boundaries. John Fogarty, an attorney for the opponents, argued in court Thursday that the law allows signature tabulations to be based on each county’s election results, whether or not a judicial district was subsequently redrawn.
“Any time a Supreme Court justice or an appeals court judge shows up, yes, the state board goes to the counties and calculates those numbers,” Fogarty said. “Even I could do it…it’s excruciatingly simple.”
Hannon, however, has always ruled for the candidates, citing case law that supports his view that basing a tabulation on a minimum of 500 signatures is “not unreasonable and therefore has a presumption of accuracy.”
Also in the running to succeed Thomas are Republicans John Noverini and Daniel Shanes, as well as Democrats René Cruz and Elizabeth Rochford.