Former Illinois prosecutors, judges urge suburban voters to give GOP control of state Supreme Court

A group of former prosecutors and former judges urged suburban voters Tuesday to give Republicans control of the Illinois Supreme Court.

"An independent and impartial judiciary is critical for good government and is the only remaining check on the absolute political power of the Democratic Party in Cook County," said Joe McMahon, former Kane County state’s attorney.

Two seats on the seven-member high court are on the fall ballot. If Republicans take both, they take control for the first time since 1969.

With Democratic super-majorities controlling both the Illinois House and Senate, as well as the governor's office currently, Republicans argue the state Supreme Court could provide valuable balance on issues such as partisan redistricting, and they complain about billionaire JB Pritzker donating hundreds of thousands of dollars Monday night to the Democratic candidates.


"Our three branches of government are designed as checks and balances on each other. Unfortunately, the multi-million-dollar bankroll from the governor and leaders of the General Assembly serve to skew that balance and are a disservice to the people of Illinois in the second and third districts especially," McMahon said.

Candidates in the state Supreme Court second district are Republican Mark Curran and Democrat Elizabeth Rochford. It includes the counties of Lake, Kane, McHenry, Kendall and DeKalb.

Vying for the third district seat are Democrat Mary Kay O'Brien and Republican Michael Burke. The third includes the counties of DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Grundy and three others downstate.

Republicans argue GOP justices would be more skeptical of the controversial SAFE-T Act, currently being challenged by dozens of prosecutors in a pending lawsuit.

"We're very confident that, if that lawsuit, that litigation actually gets an independent hearing from the Illinois Supreme Court, their challenge will be granted. The SAFE-T Act will be struck down, and that issue will be returned to the legislature to assure that we proceed going forward with the public safety as a major component of any future change," said state Sen. John Curran, Republican from Downers Grove.

The Supreme Court candidates themselves generally don't talk about specific lawsuits, because the code of legal ethics forbids it.