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Citizen Action/Illinois Releases Landmark Public Interest Voter Guide For Supreme Court Justices

Date: 
09/20/2010

SPRINGFIELD - Citizen Action/Illinois today released a landmark voter guide to help inform Illinois voters on the public interest records of three Supreme Court Justices up for retention on the November 2nd ballot.  To assist in the research for the voter guide project, Citizen Action/Illinois called upon Professor Walter Kendall III of the John Marshall Law School of Chicago.

Numerous Bar Associations have regularly evaluated candidates for the bench on the basis of legal experience and competence.  The Chamber of Commerce reports on how Justices have voted and a limited number of other groups have expressed opinions on judicial candidates.  However, to date there has been no systematic evaluation of the judicial candidates from a broader consumer and public interest perspective,” said Professor Walter J. Kendall III of the John Marshall Law School.

Professor Kendall led a group of law students in the project which summarized the opinions over the last 10 years of the three Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court who are up for retention in November: Justices Kilbride, Freeman, and Thomas.  The students focused on cases where the Judges were not unanimous in the holding of the court, and the decisions directly affected consumers and working families according to long standing positions of Citizen Action/Illinois, such as on worker and employee rights, consumer rights and protections, civil and social rights, family and children’s rights, and political and campaign reform.

“Our primary goal for this project was to provide Citizen Action/Illinois with the tools by which the organization could evaluate Supreme Court candidates from a consumer and public interest perspective,” added Professor Kendall.

Using the evaluations provided by the legal team’s research, Citizen Action/Illinois calculated that Justice Kilbride held the top public interest record by voting on behalf of the consumer agenda more than 30 times, earning him an “Excellent” recommendation from Citizen Action.  Justice Freeman earned a “Good” recommendation for voting more than 20 times for the consumer agenda. Justice Thomas followed with a “fair” recommendation for voting under 20 times on the consumer agenda.

“This guide is a landmark tool that voters in Illinois who care about the working family agenda can use to help make informed decisions on Election Day,” said William McNary, Co-Director of Citizen Action/Illinois. “For too long voters have walked into a polling booth and made decisions regarding judicial retention based solely upon a few perspectives or on special interest ad campaigns.  This report is based on the common sense understanding of the role of judges in our system of government and how their decisions affect everyday people.”