Thursday, January 29, 2015

Important IRTA Update

Important IRTA Update

A total of 10 amicus briefs in the pension case were filed between January 12- 16. 
Per the Supreme Court Rules, each amicus has filed a motion asking the Supreme Court for leave to file its amicus brief.  (Under the rules, anyone who files an amicus brief technically has to first ask the Supreme Court for permission to do so, and must submit the brief that would be filed if permission were granted.)
While it's not unusual for a few amicus briefs to be filed in an important Supreme Court case, the large number and the sheer volume of these amicus filings is unusual.  In this case, the number and volume of amicus filings also is entirely inconsistent with the spirit of the accelerated docket that the State requested and received.  It would be unfair and extremely burdensome for the plaintiffs to have to respond not only to the State's brief, but also to 10 other briefs, within the accelerated schedule and within the normal 50-page limit for Supreme Court briefs.
On January 20, 2015 our attorneys filed a motion for a 28-day extension of time to file our appellate brief.
On January 22, 2015 the Supreme Court ruled on the procedural motions:
1. The Supreme Court denied leave to all of the State's amici.  None of the State's amici briefs will be allowed to be filed.
2. Because of #1, our motion for an extension of time was denied as moot.
In March the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments.

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These “friends” of the Attorney General’s motion utilizing police powers to ignore a Constitutional promise upheld in an earlier Circuit Court were as follows:

The International Municipal Layers Association - a non-profit, national think-tank offering legal advice to client municipalities.  You might remember in 2007, this group lobbied against the FederalPublic Safety Act, which allowed an employee to join a union.

Contracts Professors -  Professors Katharine Baker, Chicago-Kent College of Law School; Wendy Epstein, DePaul University College of Law; Adrian Walters, Chicago-Kent College of Law – three members of the legal community specializing in commercial law, corporate law and contracts.  They argued against any absolute interpretation of the Pension Clause.

The Civic Federation -  A politically influential player in local and state politics, headed by Lawrence Msall – a frequent guest on WTTW Chicago Tonight where he battles against Ralph Martire of the CTBA and all things public worker.  Mr. Msall and his predecessor Eden Martin were active and influential during the development of the current Pension Ramp that annually undermines the state budget.

Constitutional Law Professors - A collection of five legal counselors, writers and professors working collaboratively to refute the absolute nature of a constitutional guarantee. 

Chicago Public Schools  Several briefs filed by lawyers representing the Chicago Public School System, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Chicago Park District – all apply the future crises they face in pension shortages as a necessary concern and motive to support Lisa Madigan’s police power argument.

Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living et al. – Argues that if the earlier Appellate Court decision is upheld, it will severely reduce the opportunity or amount of funding targeted to health services for the least able of our citizens.

The City of Chicago – As in the arguments by the CPS et al., the brief presented the looming crisis facing the city in its pension obligations and its poor investor’s rating as well as the ongoing structural revenue problem

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago – The well-heeled collection of corporate heads and powerbrokers led by Tyrone Fahner, close advisor and friend to past-Governor James Thompson, himself one of the more egregious pension thieves during his tenure.  The brief argued that the dire fiscal situation facing the state, even after making changes in a second tier of public workers, demonstrates that “any fiscal future” is reliant on an overturning of the Circuit Court decision.

The Illinois Policy Institute - This brief from the often vocal tea-party group on WTTW Chicago Tonight argued that without necessary changes provided by SB1, the pension systems themselves would be jeopardized; thus, change must be forced despite earlier Circuit Court declarations that the law was unconstitutional. 

The Illinois Municipal League.  A group representing over one thousand local municipalities and a member of the advocate group the Pension Fairness Coalition, urged a reduction in state retirement programs in order to assure continued funding of local public safety workers retirement.   You might remember when the IPI suggested that North Riverside’s fire department privatize as a result of “forgetting” to make payments into the pension funds for decades.  Many other municipalities face such shortfalls for a variety of reasons.

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