Judge tosses out Illinois ban that drafts legislative candidates as ‘restriction on right to vote’

Jun 5, 2024, 4:01 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday rejected a law Illinois Democrats adopted last month that prohibits political parties from drafting candidates when no one was on the party primary ballot.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Gail Noll ruled the law, drawn to protect vulnerable Democrats in November’s general election, is unconstitutional. It improperly interferes with a person’s right to see access to the ballot and that, Noll wrote, “places a severe restriction on the fundamental right to vote.”

“Plaintiffs have a clearly ascertainable right to be free from unconstitutional restriction on their right to vote which under the circumstances of this case includes their right to ballot access,” Noll’s opinion said.

Previously, someone who wasn’t on the primary ballot — this year, March 19 — could still run in November after getting the nod from party leaders and collecting the requisite number of valid petition signatures by the June 3 deadline set by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Several of those Republican candidates filed the lawsuit. The elections board has continued to accept nominating petitions.

Democrats who approved the change in early May said a candidate for public office should face the voters, not be hand-picked after finding out post-primary what the competition will be. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker called it an ethics law.

But Republicans blasted the idea, particularly because it was done in the middle of an election cycle. Senate Minority Leader John Curran, a Republican from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, called on Pritzker to suspend legal action in the matter and allow Republicans to proceed under the former law.

“Gov. Pritzker’s deceitful framing of this legislation as ethics reform defied logic at the time and sought to cover up his willingness to assault the constitutional rights of Illinoisans in the Democrats’ quest for power at all costs,” Curran said in a statement.

In the ruling, Noll noted that Attorney General Kwame Raoul, defending the General Assembly and Pritzker, said the government interest is to “prevent political insiders from having control over which candidates are slated,” allowing voters to make those choices.

The judge found that there are less restrictive ways to achieve that goal, a requirement of preceding case law.

An emailed messaged seeking comment was left with Raoul’s spokesperson.

National News

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Couple rescued from desert near California’s Joshua Tree National Park after running out of water

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A couple hiking in the desert south of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was rescued after running out of water, authorities said. On Sunday, the man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office posted Monday […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people Friday after they were stuck for about half an hour dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park. Portland Fire and Rescue said on the social platform X that firefighters worked with engineers at Oaks Park to manually lower the […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Independent report criticizes Cuomo’s ‘top-down’ management of New York’s COVID-19 response

NEW YORK (AP) — An investigation into New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic found former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “top down” approach of dictating public health policy through his office, rather than coordinating with state and local agencies, sewed confusion during the crisis. In the state’s nursing homes, where some 15,000 people died, the administration’s […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging federal rules to accommodate abortions for workers

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawsuit filed by 17 states challenging federal rules entitling workers to time off and other accommodations for abortions lacks standing, a federal judge in Arkansas ruled on Friday. Republican attorneys general from each state, led by Arkansas and Tennessee, sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April, days after the agency […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. ___ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif. ___ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio; Microsoft founder Bill Gates; Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. ___ CNN’s […]

9 hours ago

Judge tosses out Illinois ban that drafts legislative candidates as ‘restriction on right to vote’