Illinois Supreme Court: Key Races In This Election Cycle

Written by  James M. Odom, Esq.
Senior Policy Analyst, Illinois Family Action

When justice rules a nation, everyone is glad;
when injustice rules, everyone groans.  ~
Proverbs 29:2 

The Illinois Supreme Court District 5 race, between IFA endorsed candidate Republican David Overstreet, and Democrat Judy Cates, is crucial to maintain judicial balance on Illinois’ highest court.

There are 3 Illinois Supreme Court justice seats on the November 3rd ballot. The winner of these elections will serve for the next 10 years. These seats represent 58 percent of Illinois counties[1] and a large majority of residents.

The Illinois Supreme Court consists of 7 justices elected from 5 judicial districts:  Three from District 1 (Cook County), and one each, from Districts 2 through 5.  This election will fill a seat from each of Districts 1, 3 and 5 (see map).

The current make-up of the High Court is as follows[2]:

District Justice                                                 Age       Party                    Joined                 Term_Ends
1st Anne M. Burke (Chief Justice) 76 Democrat 2006 2028
1st Mary Jane Theis 71 Democrat 2010 2022
1st Scott Neville Jr. 71–72 Democrat 2018 2020
2nd Michael J. Burke 61 Republican 2020 2022
3rd Thomas L. Kilbride 67 Democrat 2000 2020
4th Rita B. Garman 76 Republican 2001 2022
5th Lloyd A. Karmeier 80 Republican 2004 2024

Each justice is elected by an ordinary, partisan, first election for a 10-year term.  At the end of the term (and those following, if they remain that long), each justice runs unopposed (or “against his record”) in a retention election, and must receive 60 percent of the votes cast, for another 10-year term.

Due to justices leaving prior to the end of their terms, the timing of Illinois Supreme Court elections is unpredictable and may occur during any general election.

If a Justice does not receive the necessary 60 percent of the vote to be retained, a vacancy occurs (on December 7, 2020 for this election), which would be filled by the newly elected Illinois Supreme Court until the next general election (in 2022).

Appellate Judge David Overstreet (District 5), 54, is running in a first election to replace Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier who is retiring, while Democrat Justices Thomas Kilbride (District 3) and P. Scott Neville (District 1) are up for retention elections.

If Kilbride or Neville were to lose his retention vote, there would be a vacancy which would be nominated and filled internally by the new Court after the election.

Depending upon the District 5 election outcome, the party make-up for that appointment will be 3-3 (with a Democrat Chief Justice, presuming an Overstreet win).  The Illinois Supreme Court officially does not consider party in that replacement, and by political affiliation leans Democrat.

This means that defeating Kilbride or Neville is not likely to result in an increase to Republican make-up on the Court immediately, but a vote against retaining Kilbride could force a first-time election for the seat in 2022, which could be filled by a Republican in a district that has favored President Trump.

Electing Overstreet is necessary to maintain balance in a seat currently held by a Republican.

The political platform and philosophy of the Democrat Party supports revisionist judges, who rule under a constitutional law theory of a “living constitution,” which allows judges to substitute their understanding of current circumstances for the original understanding of the written law itself.  This theory, taught prominently in law schools, undermines constitutional government and the Creator as being the foundational source of law to be enforced by government (i.e., “a Republican Form of Government,” U.S. Constitution, Article 4, Section 4).

This theory is the foundation of such decisions as Roe v. Wade, as well as many others, creating new rights for women to overcome the rights of their unborn children.  Such decisions have rendered it nearly impossible to determine an objective meaning of any Constitutional provision.

The current Democrat majority Court recently saw fit to transfer the lock-down lawsuit filed by State Representative Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) against Governor JB Pritzker from Bailey’s home in Clay County (District 5) to Sangamon County (District 4), where it has languished since the original ruling favorable to Bailey.

Therefore, if judges associate themselves (poor judgment) with the Democrat Party, we should expect them to continue to lead the courts further away from the text of our founding documents, away from God’s moral standards (i.e., “certain inalienable rights”, Declaration of Independence, Preamble), and away from freedom.

Please make every effort to cast a vote for David Overstreet if you live in District 5, and even if you don’t, persuade everyone you know in District 5 to do so! If you live in Cook County or in the 3rd Judicial District, please vote NO to retention.


[1] All counties except: (4th District) Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Greene, Jersey, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Vermilion, Woodford, (2nd District) Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago.

[2] http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/meetsupremecourt.asp, 

     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Court_of_Illinois.



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