Prevent Illinois from Becoming the Next Iowa: Fight Back Against Judicial Activism

“Judicial bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous.” — Thomas Jefferson

The radical left has been trying to remake our nation. They know they can’t win at the ballot box, so they’ve been using the courts. It’s not just the federal courts; even state courts are prone to judicial activism.

State Supreme Courts in Massachusetts, California and even our neighbor Iowa have “discovered” rights to gay marriage. California voters were able to overrule the courts by using their ability to get constitutional amendments on the ballot. However, in Illinois, we have no such right.

You may not have heard that such a fight has come to Illinois . . . yet. That isn’t because the court wouldn’t be sympathetic to such a case though. Illinois’ Supreme Court is one of the most activist state courts in the country. The Heritage Foundation recently profiled our state Supreme Court in an article on Judicial Nullification, the process by which judges void laws for spurious reasons. The court is made up of 7 justices, 4 who are currently Democrats and radical judicial activists and 3 Republican justices.

In February of this year, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down medical malpractice liability reform on a party line vote. They declared any medical malpractice caps to be unconstitutional. Or to put it another way, the court said you have a right to a $10 million dollar award if you stub your toe. Their reason? They cited separation of powers because no one can tell the courts what to do. This wasn’t the first time they did this either. They struck down similar laws 2 other times for similar reasons.

What does this have to do with social issues? It shows a pattern in the 4 liberal justices who will openly disregard the law if it doesn’t suit their liking. The same kind of approach to judging the law that Iowa and other states used to “discover” gay marriage.

Recently, a Federal Judge ruled the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Why? Because he didn’t like it. Why did the Illinois Supreme Court rule against Tort Reform? Because they didn’t like it. When judges impose their will against the people, against the legislature and against the Governor, you know radical left-wing allies will come calling.

A more egregious example of this out of control court is parental notification. We passed a law in 1995 that required abortion doctors to notify parents if their children were getting abortions. This requires the state Supreme Court to write a rule for courts to follow. They REFUSED to write the rule so the law could not be enforced for about a DECADE. It was so out of line, Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan intervened (who is no ally of the pro-life movement). They eventually relented due to her pressure.

This is a court that simply does not recognize any law that does not conform to its far left worldview.

What can we do to stop this? Every 10 years our state supreme court justices must stand for “retention.” What this means is that in November, voters can vote “yes” or “no” on whether those judges keep their jobs. If 60% say yes, they can stay, if 40% or more say no, they are voted off the bench.

Three of the four court liberals are up for retention this November. Justice Kilbride in the 3rd district (which runs roughly from Will County to Peoria to Rock Island), Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Freeman in the 1st District (Cook County). This means that we can replace 3 of the liberal justices and can bring order to the court. Radical left-wing activists know this which is why they aren’t pushing any contentious issues right now. If we can win just one of these races, we can bring order to the court. However, we’ll be going after all 3 of these out-of-control justices.

See, if we miss this opportunity in November to stop them, they have 10 MORE YEARS to serve on the bench without fear of being held accountable to the voters. That is why we need to step forward now. This court has shown itself out of the mainstream and willing to ignore the rule of law and the voters when it suits their whims and those of the special interests they serve.

To win this race we need to get the word out. That is why I’ve formed Equal Justice NOW, a political action committee to educate voters, run advertisements, and ensure that these justices are held accountable. I need your help.

First, we need to educate ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities about these races to ensure they vote “No” in November. Even if you don’t live in those districts, if you know people who do, please talk to them.

Second, we will be doing battle against the trial lawyers who love these justices who ignore the law. They have lots of money to counteract us. We don’t need to raise more than they can spend, but we do need money for our own advertising campaign. If you are able, please send a political contribution to Equal Justice NOW at 715 Erin Drive, Champaign, IL 61822 or via the website at

Together we can bring order to the court, can I count on your support?

Thank you and God Bless,

John Bambenek
Director, Equal Justice NOW