Rauner still pushing term limits

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Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said Monday he would continue his push to get a term-limit initiative for state legislators on the ballot — despite the Illinois Supreme Court’s refusal to immediately hear the case after a Cook County judge declared the proposal unconstitutional.

This means Rauner will have to go through the Chicago-based First District Appellate Court, which agreed Monday to hear the case on an expedited basis.

“We’re asking this court to make an expedited decision, we think they owe it to you, they owe it to the voters of our state to make a prompt decision on this and then let the voters decide the issue,” Rauner said at a news conference at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in River North.

The plan seeks to impose eight-year term limits on lawmakers. But in order to conform to an earlier Supreme Court ruling, the plan also would have increased the size of the Illinois House, reduced the size of the Senate and hiked the voting threshold on lawmakers to turn back gubernatorial vetoes.

The earlier Supreme Court ruling tossed a term limit proposal because it did not did not require procedural or structural changes to the state Legislature.

But even though Rauner’s initiative added the procedural and structural changes, Cook County Judge Mary Mikva said it still didn’t pass muster, ruling “any term limits initiative appears to be outside what is permissible,” under the state’s constitution.

Mikva’s ruling came after House Speaker Michael Madigan sponsored a legal challenge to Rauner’s proposal.

Now, if the Appellate Court decides the case quickly, it is certain that the losing side will appeal to the Supreme Court, which at that point is unlikely to refuse the case.

And even though the ballot deadline is only a month away, Ann M. Lousin, an expert on the Illinois constitution and a professor at John Marshall Law School, said Rauner might get a decision in time.

Lousin said that under similar circumstances in 2011, the state’s highest court stepped in to resolve a residency dispute involving Rahm Emanuel with just two days to spare. To save time in that case, the court skipped oral arguments altogether and made its decision based on written briefs already submitted to lower courts.

While the Supreme Court could see Rauner’s term-limits case as a political “hot potato,” Lousin said, “I don’t think they want to be seen as the court that didn’t come up with a final decision on something of this importance.”

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