News Local/State

Rauner Pressures Illinois Supreme Court To Rule On Term Limits


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.

"I think the people of Illinois are not being served well by our judicial process to have this occur. The Supreme Court should take up the issue and rule on it," Rauner said, at a press conference convened for that purpose."The Supreme Court justices know, that one way or another - whichever way the lower courts ruled - this was going to be appealed. And this an issue that is so important and so structurally important for the state, the Supreme Court should have taken it up from the beginning."

Time is of the essence, as Friday's the deadline for questions to make it on the ballot.

Mike Kasper, an attorney who's well known as a confidant of House Speaker Mike Madigan, sued over the term limits question months ago. Rauner's group asked the Supreme Court to bypass regular legal proceedings and take it up right away. But the Court, without comment, said no.

A Cook County judge has ruled it unconstitutional. Now it's up to an appellate court, which could issue an opinion at any time; it heard oral arguments last week.

(UPDATE: The appellate court ruled on Wednesday, upholding the lower court ruling against the term limits initiative.)

A spokesman for the Supreme Court would only say that the case is running its course. Also at the press conference, Rauner called his opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn, a "phony" for not supporting the proposed constitutional referendum.

Meanwhile, Quinn's running mate, Paul Vallas, questioned Rauner's motives. He says  Rauner didn't help Quinn back when he tried to get term limits 20 years ago.

"Look, it's great, apply political pressure on the Supreme Court," Vallas said of  Rauner. "Where were you? Where were you?"

Vallas says voters should ask why Rauner began his big push for term limits just as he began to run for office.