For the first time since 1969, the Illinois Supreme Court may have a Republican majority after the November elections.
Two seats are open on the court that cover large sections of the Chicago suburbs, WBEZ notedand decisions from the court could affect LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, gun control and many other issues. A conservative court also could construct roadblocks for Gov. JB Pritzker should he be re-electedor help GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey should he be voted governor.
The Democratic candidates are Elizabeth Rochford and Mary Kay O'Brien while Mark Curran and Michael Burke represent the Republican Party.
Rochford will take on Curran, a former Lake County sheriff in the 2nd Supreme Court District, representing Kane, Lake and McHenry counties as well as DeKalb and Kendall counties. Curran once attended an anti-abortion rally at Federal Plaza and has also circulated now-debunked claims about vote fraud in the presidential elections in Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia (although now he acknowledges Biden won the 2020 election).
O'Brien will vie against Burke in the 3rd Supreme Court District, includes DuPage and Will counties, along with Bureau, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee and LaSalle counties. O'Brien has served on the 3rd District Appellate Court for almost 20 years, according to her campaign website. She has heard more than 4,500 cases and served on numerous committees.
The candidates are largely guarded about their stances about guns and abortion.
The possibility of a Republican majority on the state supreme court has many concerned. In an unprecedented move, Equality Illinois, the state's LGBTQ+-rights organization, endorsed Rochford and O'Brien for election to the Illinois Supreme Court in the 2022 general election.
"Equality Illinois has not traditionally engaged in judicial races but the alarm bells are ringing loudly for our democracy and our rights. That's why we today are proud to endorse Judge Elizabeth Rochford and Judge Mary Kay O'Brien for Justices on the Illinois Supreme Court," said Equality Illinois Board Chair Justin DeJong in a statement. "We are confident Judge Rochford and Judge O'Brien will ensure every person receives equal protection and due process under the law and that they will also protect the tenets of democracy."
With the United States Supreme Court controlled by justices opposed to the foundational rights underpinning reproductive freedoms and marriage equality, Equality Illinois and many others feel the Illinois Supreme Court is the last line of defense to protect rights currently protected by Illinois statutes. The organization's statement read, in part, "In Illinois, the non-discrimination protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act, the marriage equality law, the conversion therapy ban, and the requirement to teach LGBTQ+ contributions in public schools are examples of laws that could be annihilated. We are also gravely concerned about judicial attacks on free and fair elections, access to justice, voting rights, reproductive rights, workers' rights, and criminal justice reforms."
"For voters in the 2nd and 3rd Judicial Districts, we urge all who care about LGBTQ+ equality and justice to vote for Rochford and O'Brien," added Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson. "Vote like your rights depend on this election. Because they do."
Terry Cosgrovewho currently leads the Chicago abortion-rights group Personal PACemailed Windy City Times, "On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that anti-choice zealots have every right to ban abortion, under all circumstances, for all women, for all time. Stopping women from accessing contraception and IVF, as well as preventing them from receiving life-saving medical care for miscarriage management, ectopic pregnancies and other medical emergencies, is now in full view at the top of their agenda. And that is exactly what these unbound extremists will do in Illinois unless you and I stop them on Nov. 8.
"These right-wingers are counting on you not believing it could happen here in Illinois.
"The Republican candidates running for two Illinois Supreme Court seats, Mark Curran and Michael Burke, are endorsed by the most extreme anti-choice statewide organizations, anti-choice donors and other right-wing elected officials precisely for all of these reasons. If Burke and Curran win, the Illinois Supreme Court will be controlled by justices who mirror Trump's Supreme Court. Right-wing lawsuits have been filed to overturn the Illinois pro-choice laws we fought so hard to achieve over the past few years and are now awaiting a hearing."
Also, Chief Justice Anne Burke (a Democrat) has announced her retirement. Her last day will be Nov. 30, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
While law is Burke's profession, Special Olympics is her passion. As a physical education instructor in the 1960s, Burke helped found the Special Olympics.
First District Appellate Justice Joy V. Cunningham has been appointed to fill the vacancy left by Burke. Cunningham, whose term is effective Dec. 1, 2022 through Dec. 2, 2024 (and who is also a Democrat), will be the second Black woman to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court.
The full WBEZ article is at https://www.wbez.org/stories/illinois-supreme-court-races-may-impact-big-issues/90649731-eea6-4d90-9ff1-ac93fb68e11f.