Pritzker Breaks Fair Maps Pledge, Lawsuit Filed

As a candidate for governor in 2018, JB Pritzker was asked the following question regarding redistricting: “Will you pledge as governor to veto any state legislative redistricting map proposal that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies?”

Then-candidate Pritzker’s verbatim response: “Yes, I will pledge to veto. We should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, but in the meantime, I would urge Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent commission to handle creating a new legislative map. That designated body should reflect the gender, racial, and geographic diversity of the state and look to preserve the Voting Rights Act decisions to ensure racial and language minorities are fully represented in the electoral process.”

On June 4, Governor Pritzker broke his promise to Illinois voters by signing into law partisan redistricting maps drafted and passed by House and Senate Democrats. These maps, drawn by Democrats behind closed doors, were crafted using incomplete and flawed data, and were then passed through the legislature less than 24 hours after being released. The Democratic supermajority ignored the repeated requests and testimony from nonpartisan reform groups that the legislature should wait until the U.S. Census data is released in August before drafting the legislative maps for the next decade. A flawed process produced a flawed result.

The House and Senate Republicans repeatedly urged the Governor to uphold his promise and veto these partisan maps. Governor Pritzker chose to break his promise to the voters. The Governor chose to side with his Democratic allies over the will of the people of Illinois.

In response, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) filed a lawsuit today in federal court to challenge the legislative maps drawn and passed by Illinois Democrats in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker. The lawsuit is being filed against Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch (in his official capacity), Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (in his official capacity), the offices of the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, and the Illinois State Board of Elections and its members (in their official capacities).

“Today’s filing should come as no surprise to Illinoisans. The partisan process upon which the legislative maps were drawn flies in the face of the strong recommendations made by countless advocacy groups and citizens who testified at the redistricting hearings,” Leader Durkin said. “The tone deaf Democratic party of Illinois has robbed citizens of a fair and transparent legislative map-making process, and I plan to be a conduit for Illinois citizens who demand honesty by ensuring they also have their day in court.”

The lawsuit argues that the use of American Community Survey (ACS) estimates violates the federal law, including well established “one-person, one-vote” principles under the U.S. Constitution. More than 50 good government and community advocacy organizations and leaders implored the General Assembly to wait for the release of official census counts, which are expected by August 16, 2021. The use of ACS estimates will undercount minority, rural and growing communities and will result in a population disparity between districts that exceeds what federal law allows. Even the U.S. Census Bureau has said that ACS estimates are not appropriate for drawing legislative boundaries.

“Today we are entering court on behalf of the thousands of families, small business owners, workers, and taxpayers who said they wanted an independently drawn map, not the one handed down by political insiders desperately clinging to power,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods). “We believe this is our best option to advocate for the 75 percent of voters who were refused an independent process and map created with accurate data. More than 50 independent groups asked the legislature not to use American Community Survey sampling estimates, and instead wait for the actual Census counts to be released, but the politicians in power ignored them. ACS estimates have never before been used for redistricting in Illinois, and we plan to challenge the legitimacy of these maps to the fullest extent of the law.”

The lawsuit requests that the court declare the Democrats’ plan to be unconstitutional, invalid, and void ab initio. The lawsuit also requests that the court direct Speaker Welch and President Harmon to make their appointments to the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission as required by the Illinois Constitution. That commission has been used in every redistricting cycle but one since the constitution’s adoption in 1970. Leaders Durkin and McConchie will make their appointments soon and have pledged to work with those commissioners and the Democratic Leaders to adopt a transparent, bipartisan and independent process for drawing and approving a legislative map after the release of official census data in August.

A copy of the filing can be found below: