The new judicial subcircuits map governs the regions within Illinois’ largest counties where Illinois circuit judges will sit and hear cases. Now, more than half the judges of Illinois sit in counties that are mapped into subcircuits since Pritzker has signed House Bill 3138 into law.
Much as they did with the legislative redistricting map, supermajority Democrats shoved their new judicial subcircuits map through the process in a 24-hour period, with no public comment or involvement from the judiciary. The Democrats passed their judicial redistricting map under the cover of darkness, calling the bill for a final vote late on Wednesday night.
State Representative Tim Butler blasted Illinois Democrats during House floor debate for their latest gerrymandering scheme to politicize the Illinois judiciary to an extent never seen in the state to place more Democrats on subcircuit courts and dilute Republican participation in the judiciary.
“It’s an abomination to this institution. It’s an abomination to the people of Illinois,” Butler said before the House voted 66-34 along partisan lines to send the bill to the Democratic governor’s desk.
“This is the perfect example why politicians shouldn’t draw maps,” said Butler, Republican spokesman on the House Redistricting Committee. “This is the perfect example why we need an independent, citizen-led commission to draw our maps, from the legislative to the congressional to the judicial, and even the Cook County Board of Review.”
“This continues the trend that we’ve seen from redistricting throughout the year — lack of engagement from the public, lack of input from anyone,” Butler said. “Maps are drawn from behind closed doors. … without engagement from the judiciary, state’s attorneys, judges, circuits. No one’s been consulted on this. … You decided to remake the Supreme Court and remake the appellate courts, and now you want to remake the circuit courts so you can defend the governor’s agenda in the courts eventually.”
Rep. Avery Bourne said: “If it weren’t so bad, it would be hilarious that this legislature is looking at what the sponsor of the bill said in committee was an an independent branch of government. And this partisan body is taking partisan measures to totally recreate an independent body of government.”
Added Rep. Tony McCombie, “This bill is nothing more than an unethical, partisan scheme to elect more radical Democrat judges who are going to continue to be soft on the crime that is plaguing our state.”
Bourne said the late-night votes that General Assembly Democrats have orchestrated on important issues have been frustrating. Republicans have criticized the timing of votes on new maps for new state legislative districts, the state budget, criminal-justice reform and now judicial subdistricts. The House gave final passage to the subdistricts bill about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’ve gotten into this terrible habit in this legislature in the last year of not doing anything meaningful until the rest of Illinois is asleep,” Bourne said.