Union coalition: Preserve fair appellate process

by Beth Camplain | Dec 09, 2014
UPDATED: We Are One Illinois has asked the state Supreme Court to deny a request for a rushed ruling on the constitutionality of pension-cutting SB1. The coalition urges the Court to follow established rules to preserve a fair process for all parties.

12/10/14 UPDATE

The Illinois Supreme Court just announced their decision to allow the pension appeal process to be accelerated. The Court selected “Alternative C," the abbreviated briefing schedule with the latest deadlines. Our union coalition indicated this would be acceptable in our filing. The proceedings will begin on Jan. 12, 2015, with oral arguments set to begin in March.

In response to a motion by the state seeking to short-circuit the Illinois Supreme Court’s normal procedure and replace it with an unfairly rushed schedule in the appeal of a ruling that struck down Senate Bill 1—pension-cutting legislation affecting active and retired teachers, state employees and university employees—the We Are One Illinois union coalition and the other plaintiff groups have requested that the Court follow its established rules to ensure a fair process with ample time for all parties.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has requested a significantly truncated schedule for her appeal of a Sangamon County Circuit Court ruling that overturned SB 1.

Saying that a rushed process is unnecessary and could be unfair, the union coalition and other plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to adhere to its normal schedule for hearing appeals, allowing all parties adequate time to respond.

While the state claims to want a decision before the end of May for budget-making purposes, our filing points out that the state’s own appeal seeks only to return the case to the circuit court, where a decision would certainly not come before the supposed May deadline. In short, the state’s argument is based on trying to create “a false sense of urgency.”

Further, our reply notes, “The defendants made no effort to consult with the plaintiffs on any agreed briefing schedule prior to filing their motion. The reason is obvious. The defendants seek to impose a manifestly unfair briefing schedule on the plaintiffs” by severely reducing our time available to prepare required responses.

“As we have always said, our unions remain ready to work with anyone of good faith to develop fair and constitutional solutions to fund the retirement systems for teachers, police, nurses, child protection workers and other public employees,” the We Are One Illinois coalition said. “Similarly, we want a fair process for hearing this critically important appeal and have urged the Supreme Court to ensure it.”

Click here to read the coalition's filing.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers is a leading partner of the We Are One Illinois coalition.