Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois
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School districts sought a judgment declaring that the Governor and the State of Illinois, have a constitutional obligation to provide them with the funding necessary to meet or achieve the learning standards established by the Illinois State Board of Education. Plaintiffs asked the court to enter judgment for the necessary amounts and for the court to “[r]etain jurisdiction to enforce such schedule of payments.”The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The plaintiffs abandoned their claims against the State; the Governor is not a proper defendant because he does not have authority to grant the relief requested by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs acknowledged that an appropriation of public funds may come only from the General Assembly. This case does not involve an actual controversy between the parties as required to grant declaratory relief. View "Cahokia Unit School District No. 187 v. Pritzker" on Justia Law

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The 2012 Cook County Firearm Tax Ordinance imposed a $25 tax on the retail purchase of a firearm within Cook County. A 2015 amendment to the County Code included a tax on the retail purchase of firearm ammunition at the rate of $0.05 per cartridge for centerfire ammunition and $0.01 per cartridge for rimfire ammunition. The taxes levied on the retail purchaser are imposed in addition to all other taxes imposed by the County, Illinois, or any municipal corporation or political subdivision. The revenue generated from the tax on ammunition is directed to the Public Safety Fund; the revenue generated from the tax on firearms is not directed to any specified fund or program.Plaintiffs alleged that the taxes facially violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Constitution concerning the right to bear arms and the uniformity clause, and are preempted by the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act and the Firearm Concealed Carry Act. The trial court rejected the suit on summary judgment. The appellate court affirmed.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. To satisfy scrutiny under a uniformity challenge, where a tax classification directly bears on a fundamental right, the government must establish that the tax classification is substantially related to the object of the legislation. Under that level of scrutiny, the firearm and ammunition tax ordinances violate the uniformity clause. View "Guns Save Life, Inc. v. Ali" on Justia Law

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The School Board sought equitable relief from Crest Hill ordinances creating a real property tax increment financing (TIF) district and attendant redevelopment plan and project, pursuant to the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act (65 ILCS 5/11-74.4-1). The Board complained that Crest Hill violated the TIF Act by including parcels of realty in the redevelopment project area that were not contiguous. An excluded parcel is owned by the utility company, is located outside the incorporated boundaries of the municipality and the boundaries of the redevelopment project area, and physically separates the parcels the municipality found to be contiguous for purposes of including them in the redevelopment project area.The circuit court granted Crest Hill summary judgment. The Appellate Court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the reversal. A public-utility-right-of-way exception to the contiguity requirement for annexation, found in the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/7-1-1), does not apply as an exception to contiguity required by the TIF Act. This case does not involve contiguous properties running parallel and adjacent to each other in a reasonably substantial physical sense, wherein a public utility owns a right-of-way, or easement, to pass through one or both of the physically adjacent properties. View "Board of Education of Richland School District No. 88A v. City of Crest Hill" on Justia Law

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In 1999, Agpawa pleaded guilty to federal felony mail fraud. In 2002, he completed his sentence. Agpawa ran for mayor of the City of Markham in 2017. There were no preelection challenges to Agpawa’s nominating petitions, but Cook County State’s Attorney Foxx sent Agpawa a letter stating that he was ineligible to serve as mayor because of his felony conviction. Agpawa won the election. Foxx filed a complaint, alleging that Agpawa had been convicted of an “infamous crime” and was prohibited from holding municipal office unless he received a presidential pardon under the Election Code. 10 ILCS 5/29-15. The appellate court affirmed judgment for Foxx.Agpawa sought relief from then-Governor Rauner, who issued a document that purported to be a “RESTORATION OF RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP ROGER AGPAWA.” Agpawa took the oath of office as Markham's mayor. The court vacated its earlier order. No appeal was taken. In 2020, Agpawa sought reelection. Opponents objected. The Markham Municipal Officers Electoral Board ruled in favor of Agpawa. The appellate court reversed. A subsequent amendment to the Election Code specifically refers to a restoration of rights by the governor.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the Board ruling. While the governor has no constitutional authority to pardon a federal conviction, the governor has statutory authority to mitigate the collateral electoral consequences of such a conviction by issuing a restoration of rights. Governor Rauner’s untitled document restored Agpawa’s Illinois rights of citizenship, including the right to hold municipal office. The court rejected arguments that the Illinois legislature had no authority to alter the effect of a federal conviction and that the statutory amendment violated the special legislation clause, was “void for vagueness,” should not be applied retroactively, and violated first amendment rights, the equal protection clause, and separation of powers principles. View "Walker v. Agpawa" on Justia Law

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Tillman filed a petition for leave to file a taxpayer action under 735 ILCS 5/11-303, to enjoin the disbursement of public funds, alleging that certain general obligation bonds issued by the state in 2003 and 2017 were unconstitutional. He claimed the bonds violated article IX, section 9(b), of the Illinois Constitution on the ground that they were not issued for qualifying “specific purposes,” which, he argued, refers exclusively to “specific projects in the nature of capital improvements, such as roads, buildings, and bridges.” The 2003 “State pension funding” law authorized $10 billion in bonds to be issued “for the purpose of making contributions to the designated retirement systems.” The 2017 law authorized “Income Tax Proceed Bonds,” ($6 billion) “for the purpose of paying vouchers incurred by the State prior to July 1, 2017.”The circuit court denied the petition. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court. the necessary elements for laches have been met in this case: “lack of due diligence by the party asserting the claim” and “prejudice to the opposing party.” There is no reasonable ground under section 11-303 of the Code for filing the petitioner’s proposed complaint View "Tillman v. Pritzker" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs, 12 tree planters who allegedly worked for Moore Landscapes under contracts that Moore executed with the Chicago Park District, sought unpaid wages, statutory damages, prejudgment interest on back-pay, and reasonable attorney fees and costs under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/11. They alleged that Moore improperly paid them an hourly rate of $18 instead of the prevailing hourly wage rate of $41.20.The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s dismissal order. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The Park District and Moore did not stipulate rates for work done under the contracts. The Act provides that, when the public body does not include a sufficient stipulation in a contract, the potential liabilities of the contractor are narrower than those provided under section 11, when a contractor disregards a clear contractual stipulation to pay prevailing wage rates, and “shall be limited to the difference between the actual amount paid and the prevailing rate of wages required to be paid for the project. View "Valerio v. Moore Landscapes, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act took effect in 2014, 410 ILCS 130/999, “to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The Department of Agriculture (DOA), charged with enforcing the provisions of the Act related to registering and overseeing medical cannabis cultivation centers, adopted Administrative Rules.Medponics petitioned for administrative review of a DOA decision, awarding a permit to Curative, to operate a medical cannabis cultivation center in Aurora. Medponics alleged that the location of Curative’s proposed facility violated the Act because it was located within 2500 feet of the R-1 and R-5 districts in Aurora, both of which Medponics alleged were zoned exclusively for residential use. DOA found Curative’s proposed location satisfied the location requirement because multiple nonresidential uses were authorized in Aurora’s R-1 and R-5 districts. The circuit court reversed the DOA’s decision.The appellate court ordered the permit reinstated to Curative. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. DOA’s interpretation of the location requirement is not erroneous, unreasonable, or in conflict with the Act; the definition is reasonable and harmonizes with the purpose of the Act. View "Medponics Illinois LLC v. Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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In December 2020, Jackson and Pope each filed a statement as an independent candidate for village president. Jackson's petition had 50 voter signatures. Pope's had 32 signatures. An objection alleged that the number of signatures was insufficient under 10 ILCS 5/10-3. At an Electoral Board hearing, Schmidt, the Glendale Heights clerk and election official, testified that the Du Page County Clerk’s Office sent an e-mail indicating that “due to COVID, we are reducing the points of contact, here is a list of forms.” Schmidt stated that she read the State Board of Elections 2021 Candidate’s Guide, and, relying on the numbers “for non-partisan” elections, concluded that 24 signatures were required. Schmidt admitted that she did not understand the distinction between independent and nonpartisan. She acknowledged that she was never notified that the statutorily required number of signatures had been reduced because of the pandemic. Both candidates testified that they relied on Schmidt's representations.The Board overruled the objection, finding that both candidates justifiably relied on Schmidt’s statements and excusing their statutory violations. The trial and appellate courts affirmed.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, noting that the lowest possible correctly calculated number of signatures would be 118. While ballot access is a substantial right, the best safeguard of that right is fidelity to the Election Code and not unrestrained discretion by a local election official inexplicably confused about the statutory distinction between partisan and nonpartisan elections. A precise mathematical formula, clear and certain in its application, prevents impermissible political bias. View "Corbin v. Schroeder" on Justia Law

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Calumet City held a referendum proposing that candidates could not seek the office of mayor while simultaneously holding an elected, paid state office. Before the outcome of the referendum was certified, Representative Jones of the 29th District of the General Assembly filed nomination papers seeking the office of mayor. The referendum was later certified as adopted. The day after certification, objectors brought suit to bar Jones from appearing on the February 2021 ballot in light of the newly passed referendum. The Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City sustained the objection and removed Jones from the ballot. The circuit court of Cook County affirmed, directing that Jones’s name appear on the ballot but that all his votes be impounded or suppressed. The appellate court summarily reversed and ordered that Jones appear on the ballot.The Illinois Supreme Court stayed the appellate court order and subsequently reversed in favor of Jones. The referendum became effective on November 24, 2020, the date the election was certified. Because Jones filed his nomination papers on November 16, 2020, he was legally qualified to run for mayor at that time. His nomination papers were not defective at that time. View "Jones v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City" on Justia Law

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Moore, a tenured teacher since 1994, was advised by her students that another student had ingested some pills. Other school personnel immediately became involved in responding to the incident. Chicago Public Schools later approved dismissal charges against Moore, (105 ILCS 5/34-85), alleging failure to appropriately respond, failure to supervise, failure to perform certain duties, and failure to comply with Board policies and the state ethical and professional standards. Moore was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the dismissal hearing.On September 7, 2018, the hearing officer issued findings that Moore had alerted the administration to the student’s overdose and that she had not lied during the investigation and concluded that the Board’s evidence failed to establish cause for Moore’s dismissal. The Board found that Moore failed to act in a prudent and responsible manner, failed to check on the well-being of the student, and failed to notify her colleagues in a timely fashion. The Board determined that Moore’s negligent behavior did not warrant her dismissal but issued a warning resolution, required her to attend training, and imposed a 90-day reduction in her back pay.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the Board’s decision. The appellate court erred when it held that section 34-85 precluded the Board from suspending a teacher without pay following a dismissal hearing; a 2011 amendment did not diminish the Board’s implied authority to issue a suspension once a determination is made that the conduct does not warrant dismissal. Sections 34- 18 and 34-85 govern different disciplinary sanctions (dismissals and suspensions) and are not in conflict. The Board articulated its findings and analysis supporting the sanctions. View "Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. Moore" on Justia Law