Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Illinois’s Chicken-and-Fish Supreme Court

Illinois, Supreme Court, term limits, initiative, democracy, gerrymandering

A constitution is the law of the land only to the extent that it’s enforced. And in Illinois, the right of citizen initiative — provided for in the state constitution — is not enforced.

The constitution’s wording is explicit: “Amendments . . . may be proposed by a petition signed by a [specified number of electors]. . . . Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.”

Does that Article IV discuss the subject of election procedures, including eligibility requirements, thereby opening the door to a citizen-initiated term limits amendment? Yes, it does. Section 2, subsection (c), for example, specifies citizenship, age, and residency requirements.

Yet the Illinois Supreme Court has repeatedly chucked the results of effective petition drives to get a state legislative term limits question on the ballot.

The justices rely on the venerable Fallacy of Tortured Misreading.

Former Illinois legislator Jim Nowlin recently pointed out that in 1976, the court concluded that the wording about how initiative proposals “‘shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects’. . . meant a proposal must make both kinds of changes.” The lone dissenter on the court “opined to the effect: When I see a restaurant sign that says, ‘We have chicken and fish,’ that doesn’t mean you have to order both chicken and fish!”

The right of citizen initiative is a crucial means of reforming government when those in government won’t reform themselves. The citizens of Illinois have that right. But, for now, they also don’t.

That ain’t Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

PDF for printing


By: CS Admin


  1. John F Brennan says:

    We have reached the inversion as predicted by Ayn Rand and the is the tip of the iceberg. 
    Correction is now or never. 

  2. Pat says:

    There would be no need for citizen petitions if voters would simply vote OUT those legislators who will not do the will of the people.   We need to stop relying on judges to get things done.   The 16th Amendment to the Constitution was passed (and ratified) after judges threw out the income tax enacted by Congress.   Congress and the President did an end run around the Court and used the amendment process to make the income tax constitutional.  Voters in Illinois (and everywhere else in these United States) have an opportunity to call their representatives on the carpet and FIRE them.  Unless and until that happens, we will get the government we deserve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2020 Common Sense with Paul Jacob, All Rights Reserved. Back to top