CBA Nov.-Dec. 2020

• Should the death penalty be abolished? • Should the voting age be lowered to 18? As Cicero notes, “the voters opted for the status quo” on all four of these propositions, leaving in place cumulative voting, election of judges, the death pen- alty and the voting age of 21. However, only six months later, the 26th Amend- ment to the U.S. Constitution lowered the voting age to 18 nationwide (with the Illinois General Assembly voting to ratify). In 1980, Illinois voters ratified a state constitutional amendment eliminat- ing multi-member districts and reducing the size of the House of Representatives by one-third. Finally, in 2011, the General Assembly abolished the death penalty by statute. Judges, however, continue to be elected rather than appointed. Unrealized Potential Some observers contend that the transfor- mative potential of the 1970 Constitution has been sabotaged by all three branches of state government. Ladd states that, “for the most part, we gave government a charter where, if it had acted responsibly, it could have done really great things.” Instead, he says, the Constitution’s “potential was severely limited by the actions of govern- ment in terms of implementing it. The document was aspirational, no question about it, and maybe that aspiration was misplaced.” Although Ladd lays blame on the legislative and executive branches, he notes that “we had some real help from the courts in terms of blocking the aspirations of that document.” Alexander has noted wryly that, “A constitution is not much better, if any, than the people who must implement it and interpret it.” For example, when the state Supreme Court reviewed the right to privacy set forth in the 1970 Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it thwarted an expansive reading of that provision by ruling in 1984 that its protections were no more extensive than the right to privacy implicit in the U.S. Constitution. As a result, Quinn says, the state privacy guarantee “disappointingly has not been broad enough to protect privacy over the last five decades.” The outcome of this case, however, was part of a pattern of decision making under the

Significant Reforms and Innovations Adopted in the Illinois Constitution in 1970

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties • Express recognition of the right to be free from “invasions of privacy or intercep- tions of communications by eavesdropping devices or other means.” • A requirement that a person may be charged with a crime punishable by impris- onment only by a grand jury indictment or “a prompt hearing to establish probable cause.” • The guarantee to every person of “a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries and wrongs which he receives to his person, privacy, property or reputation.” • Prohibition of discrimination in employment practices and the sale or rental of property on the basis of race, color, creed, national ancestry, sex or disability (two decades before Congress adopted the Americans with Disabilities Act). These pro- hibitions were to be enforceable without further action by the General Assembly. • Prohibition of the denial of equal protection of the laws on account of sex. • A requirement that a felon’s right to vote must be restored upon the completion of his or her sentence. State and Local Governance • Expansion of the governor’s power to veto legislation passed by the General Assembly, including the power to reduce appropriations by a “reduction veto” and to revise legislation by an “amendatory veto.” • Numerous measures to promote transparency in government. • Creation of a Judicial Inquiry Board “to conduct investigations, receive or initiate complaints concerning a Judge or Associate Judge, and file complaints with the Courts Commission” regarding allegations of judicial misconduct or of a judge’s physical or mental inability to perform his or her duties. • Permitting governments at both the state and local levels to enter into intergov- ernmental agreements “to obtain or share services and to exercise, combine or transfer any power or function.” • Mandating the appointment by the General Assembly of an Auditor General “to conduct the audit of the public funds of the State” as well as other investigations on behalf of the General Assembly. Taxation and Debt • Confirming the state Supreme Court’s 1969 ruling that the newly adopted state income tax is constitutional, but prohibiting a “graduated” or progressive income tax, and providing that the corporate income tax rate cannot exceed the individual income tax ratio by greater than a ratio of eight to five. [On November 3, after this issue of the CBA Record went to press, voters voted on a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the General Assembly to impose a graduated income tax.] • Abolishing personal property taxes and directing the General Assembly to adopt a replacement tax. • Permitting the grant of homestead exemptions from real property taxation. • Deleting the 1870 Constitution’s prohibition on lotteries. • Easing the 1870 Constitution’s restrictions on the state incurring debt and removing the restriction on local government debt.


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