SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Democratic Justices, citing Republican predecessor, won’t step aside from assault weapons case

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Two newly-elected justices of the Illinois Supreme Court have declined to recuse themselves from a case challenging the state’s recently passed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The court as a whole also issued an unsigned order declining to disqualify them.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, which include state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, filed a motion March 30 asking Justices Mary Kay O’Brien and Elizabeth Rochford, both Democrats, to recuse themselves from the case or, in the alternative, that the court disqualify them from participating.

The motion noted that both received substantial campaign donations during their 2022 campaigns from Gov. JB Pritzker and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, both of whom are named defendants in the case. The motion also noted that both received endorsements from two prominent gun control lobby organizations, Gun Violence Prevention PAC and Giffords PAC.

According to campaign finance records, both judicial candidates received $500,000 each from the JB for Governor campaign and another $500,000 each from the Jay Robert Pritzker Revocable Trust. Both also received contributions from Welch’s campaign committee, $350,000 for O’Brien and $150,000 for Rochford.

“The significance of the campaign contributions cannot be understated as often in politics, cash follows cash, especially when one considers the stake the Governor and/or Speaker were taking in the race(s),” the motion stated. “Thirty-Nine percent (39%) of Justice O’Brien’s cash came from litigation stakeholders. Thirty-Six percent (36%) of Justice Rochford’s cash came from litigation stakeholders.”

The motion also cited a joint statement from G-PAC and Giffords PAC issued Nov. 9, the day after the election, in which the groups touted the victories of 88 “gun-safety” candidates they had endorsed in the election.

“Chief among them are victories in both contested Illinois Supreme Court races as well as a pickup in the Illinois Senate and four pickups that build the supermajority in the Illinois House,” the groups said.

“G-PAC congratulates the gun safety candidates who were victorious in the general election, particularly newly elected Supreme Court Justices Elizabeth Rochford and Mary Kay O’Brien as well as Senator-elect Rachel Ventura and Representatives-elect Diane Blair-Sherlock, Nabeela Syed, Mary Beth Canty and Laura Faver Dias,” they said.

In their motion, the plaintiffs’ attorneys conceded that there is no Supreme Court rule specifying how a justice could be disqualified. But they did cite portions of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct, which states in part that, “A judge shall be disqualified in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality
might reasonably be questioned.”

That includes cases in which the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning the parties, attorneys or issues involved, as well as cases in which the judge has made public statements outside of a court proceeding that appear to commit the judge to a particular decision.

In Illinois, the decision on whether Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from a case rests solely with the justices themselves, and both O’Brien and Rochford declined to do so.

In separate orders written by each of the two justices, O’Brien and Rochford noted that the plaintiffs did not point to any specific pledges or statements that would indicate a bias in the case. They both also argued that the contributions they had received were within the state’s campaign finance limits for judicial elections.

Both justices cited a case involving now-retired Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a Republican, who was asked in 2014 to recuse himself from hearing an appeal in a $10 billion class action lawsuit against tobacco giant Philip Morris. Plaintiffs in that case argued that Philip Morris’ parent company, Altria Group, had given $500,000 to a group that supported Karmeier.

“The claim that a judge may not hear a case because a party may have some association with a public interest group or political party that did support or may have supported the judge’s candidacy has no basis in the law, would be unworkable and is contrary to the very notion of an elected judiciary,” Rochford quoted Karmeier as writing at the time.

“When judges are elected, as the Illinois Constitution requires, it is inevitable (and entirely appropriate) that interest groups will support judges whose judicial philosophies they believe are most closely aligned with their own views,” Rochford’s quotation of Karmeier continued.

O’Brien quoted Karmeier as well, stating: “Litigants must not be permitted to create the grounds for recusal by criticizing the judge or casting sinister aspersions, nor may a party engage in ‘judge-shopping’ by manufacturing bias or prejudice that previously did not exist.”

Lawmakers passed the ban on more than 170 types of semiautomatic firearms and high-capacity magazines during a special lame duck session in January. Gov. JB Pritzker signed it into law within hours of its passage, making Illinois the ninth state to enact such a ban.

There are currently two challenges to the law pending in state courts. The Caulkins case originated in Macon County while a separate suit filed by attorney Thomas DeVore, the 2022 Republican candidate for attorney general, originated in Effingham County.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Macon County case on an expedited schedule while the Effingham County case is being held “in abeyance” pending the outcome of the Macon County case.

The law is also being challenged in federal court in East St. Louis where a judge heard oral arguments last week.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

 

Leave a Comment





Local News

Peggy Zabicki

Hot dog! This is a special week

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . I would like to start my column with the most important news. National Hot Dog Day is Wednesday, July 17 and is traditionally celebrated all week. I decided to suggest two West Lawn restaurants for celebrating…

GSWNH_HolidayInnRear_070524

Migrants coming to Ford City

Spread the love

Spread the love. Nearly a thousand coming this month to Holiday Inn . By Tim Hadac The Pritzker Administration is converting a vacant hotel in the Midway area to a shelter expected to house as many as 950 migrants. The action is occurring quickly, with migrants expected to move in this month. In a press…

CTAlogo

CTA hiring means more rail service

Spread the love

Spread the love. Orange Line sees 11% jump . From staff reports The Chicago Transit Authority has announced that because of what they described as continued, aggressive recruiting, hiring and training efforts, it has added 8.5% more scheduled rail service in recent weeks for a total of 9% more scheduled service added since April 2024.…

the leadershop logo

LeaderShop Alumni Association to host peaceful rally during Thursday board meeting

Spread the love

Spread the loveThe LeaderShop Alumni Association, a group of volunteers, previous staff members, former board members, funders, donors, and stakeholders who are community minded and energized by the mission of The LeaderShop, will host a peaceful rally in support of change to current leadership for the nonprofit agency. The rally will be held during The…

The Mariano’s store in Frankfort would be among the stores transferred to a new owner if the Kroger-Albertson’s merger is approved. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Comings & Goings: Palos Jewel, Oak Lawn Mariano’s to be sold in merger deal

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Kroger and Albertson’s this week released the list of stores the companies plan to sell, should a merger between the grocery giants be approved by regulators. Jewel Food Stores in Alsip and Palos Heights are among the stores listed for sale as well as Mariano’s locations in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and…

The Oak Lawn Public Library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave., kicked off its adult and teen summer reading season with a Local Author Showcase featuring a book fair and 30 authors June 12. (Photos by Enrique Reyes, Courtesy of the Oak Lawn Public Library)

Oak Lawn Library hosts Local Author Showcase

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Oak Lawn Public Library opened its doors to the summer season and to its local authors. The library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave., kicked off its adult and teen summer reading season with a Local Author Showcase featuring a book fair and 30 authors June 12. “Thirty authors, two hours, and…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 10, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Palos Heights native Patrick Bertotelli won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest July 4 in New York. (Photo courtesy of Major League Eating)

Palos Heights native is top dog in famous eating contest

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva At one time, it may have seemed impossible for Palos Heights native Patrick Bertoletti to win the Nathan’s Hog Dog Eating contest. After all, Joey Chestnut was roasting opponents year after year by winning 16 titles since 2007 and had a streak of gobbling up championships eight years in a…

Palos Park Mayor Nicole Milovich-Walters is hoping a mobile DMV will return to the village after the July 15 visit was sold out. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

DMV sellout could mean a return visit in Palos Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Palos Park Clerk Marie Arrigoni announced that appointments for the one-day mobile Department of Motor Vehicles visit to Village Hall are sold out. That’s bad news for those residents who were looking forward to taking care of DMV business right there in town. But it was good news to Mayor…

Alan Morales

LeaderShop director faces more charges from former staffers

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The LaGrange-based LeaderShop, a social service agency that recently lost $300,000 in funding, is facing new charges of a toxic work environment, bullying, and inappropriate behavior by Executive Director Alan Morales. Since the story was first published in the Desplaines Valley News on June 24, at least six women have…

Neighbors

Peggy Zabicki

Hot dog! This is a special week

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . I would like to start my column with the most important news. National Hot Dog Day is Wednesday, July 17 and is traditionally celebrated all week. I decided to suggest two West Lawn restaurants for celebrating…

GSWNH_HolidayInnRear_070524

Migrants coming to Ford City

Spread the love

Spread the love. Nearly a thousand coming this month to Holiday Inn . By Tim Hadac The Pritzker Administration is converting a vacant hotel in the Midway area to a shelter expected to house as many as 950 migrants. The action is occurring quickly, with migrants expected to move in this month. In a press…

CTAlogo

CTA hiring means more rail service

Spread the love

Spread the love. Orange Line sees 11% jump . From staff reports The Chicago Transit Authority has announced that because of what they described as continued, aggressive recruiting, hiring and training efforts, it has added 8.5% more scheduled rail service in recent weeks for a total of 9% more scheduled service added since April 2024.…

the leadershop logo

LeaderShop Alumni Association to host peaceful rally during Thursday board meeting

Spread the love

Spread the loveThe LeaderShop Alumni Association, a group of volunteers, previous staff members, former board members, funders, donors, and stakeholders who are community minded and energized by the mission of The LeaderShop, will host a peaceful rally in support of change to current leadership for the nonprofit agency. The rally will be held during The…

The Mariano’s store in Frankfort would be among the stores transferred to a new owner if the Kroger-Albertson’s merger is approved. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Comings & Goings: Palos Jewel, Oak Lawn Mariano’s to be sold in merger deal

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Kroger and Albertson’s this week released the list of stores the companies plan to sell, should a merger between the grocery giants be approved by regulators. Jewel Food Stores in Alsip and Palos Heights are among the stores listed for sale as well as Mariano’s locations in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and…

The Oak Lawn Public Library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave., kicked off its adult and teen summer reading season with a Local Author Showcase featuring a book fair and 30 authors June 12. (Photos by Enrique Reyes, Courtesy of the Oak Lawn Public Library)

Oak Lawn Library hosts Local Author Showcase

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Oak Lawn Public Library opened its doors to the summer season and to its local authors. The library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave., kicked off its adult and teen summer reading season with a Local Author Showcase featuring a book fair and 30 authors June 12. “Thirty authors, two hours, and…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 10, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Palos Heights native Patrick Bertotelli won the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest July 4 in New York. (Photo courtesy of Major League Eating)

Palos Heights native is top dog in famous eating contest

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva At one time, it may have seemed impossible for Palos Heights native Patrick Bertoletti to win the Nathan’s Hog Dog Eating contest. After all, Joey Chestnut was roasting opponents year after year by winning 16 titles since 2007 and had a streak of gobbling up championships eight years in a…

Palos Park Mayor Nicole Milovich-Walters is hoping a mobile DMV will return to the village after the July 15 visit was sold out. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

DMV sellout could mean a return visit in Palos Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Palos Park Clerk Marie Arrigoni announced that appointments for the one-day mobile Department of Motor Vehicles visit to Village Hall are sold out. That’s bad news for those residents who were looking forward to taking care of DMV business right there in town. But it was good news to Mayor…

Alan Morales

LeaderShop director faces more charges from former staffers

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The LaGrange-based LeaderShop, a social service agency that recently lost $300,000 in funding, is facing new charges of a toxic work environment, bullying, and inappropriate behavior by Executive Director Alan Morales. Since the story was first published in the Desplaines Valley News on June 24, at least six women have…