Have a yen to cling indefinitely to political power? You probably oppose term limits . . . as well as the citizen initiative rights enabling voters to term-limit you.
And when voters possess both initiative rights and a willingness to exercise them, it wouldn’t surprise me if you pray that any judge assessing a duly petitioned-for term limits question deems it unconstitutional. Even if it’s garnered 596,140 signatures, 300,000 more than the minimum valid signatures required.
You guessed it: Not a hypothetical scenario. And not, of course, about you.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is leading to impose eight-year term limits on all legislative service in Illinois. The petition has more than enough valid signatures to reach the ballot. But incumbents sued, citing an early 1990s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court that declared a different term limits question unconstitutional.
Cook County Judge Mary Mikva agrees; “precedent dictates a very narrow provision for allowing the voters to directly enact term amendments to the Illinois Constitution.” Her June 27 ruling is being appealed.
The state’s notoriously corrupt political class may wish upon a constellation, but wishing won’t make the cited precedent relevant.
As Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, argued in a recent op-ed, “term limits are exactly the type of provision the Constitution’s framers thought citizens should be allowed to propose and vote on.” He added, “This isn’t just a common-sense reading of what the Illinois Constitution says; it’s also what its framers said explicitly when they included this provision.”
The stated aim of republican constitutions in America has never been to protect incumbents from effective citizen oversight and control.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.