Friday, May 8, 2015

From Glen Brown: A Moral Assertion!

From Glen Brown:  A Moral Assertion!

“It was always a legal and moral issue.

“[O]f fundamental importance [is] the primacy of the Illinois Constitution over considerations of political expediency” (Brief of ISEA, RSEA, Heaton and Harrison, Plaintiffs-Appellees, 2).

Today we celebrate a legal and moral victory. We can believe in the Illinois Constitution for protection and believe in the sanctity of contracts once again. We can believe the Pension Protection Clause “confers additional, independent protection for public retirement benefits separate and distinct from the protection afforded by the Contract Clause” (Brief of ISEA, RSEA, Heaton and Harrison, Plaintiffs-Appellees, 22). We can believe the Pension Protection Clause decisively has no reference to “subject to police power.” We can believe Illinois legislators “may not rewrite the Pension Protection Clause to include restrictions and limitations that the drafters did not express and the citizens of Illinois did not approve” (32). We can believe “no reserved power allows a state legislature to sidestep the plain prohibitions set out in its own constitution” (41) at least for now.

As readers of my blog know, I have stated many times to possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all Illinois legislators to protect that right. There are no rights without obligations. They are mutually dependent.

Fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents. Senate Bill 1 was, indeed, a foul insensitive attack on public employees’ and retirees’ rights to constitutionally-guaranteed benefits.

I wrote four years ago that challenges lie ahead for current public employees, retirees and their families, and for every citizen of Illinois. These facts have not changed: there are liars and thieves among us who will continue to choose which contracts to honor and which ones to violate in the future.

We know they will attempt another legislative thievery of our benefits and rights again. Thus, we must continue our vigilance. Most importantly, we must continue our resistance against the dishonest politicians and their mendacious accomplices, such as members of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Civic Federation, Illinois Policy Institute, and their ilk.

We know corrupt legislators will pass laws for their own advantage. We should recall that despite their pledges, the legislators’ criteria for justice are their considerations for what is expedient for them—their re-elections to remain in power and wealth.

We must never become complacent in our belief that justice exists for those who simply “fight the good fight”; nor should we become indifferent to political power and what exorbitant wealth can buy: a “democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder” (Bill Moyers).  

It will still be up to us to protect what we have earned for our life’s labor by opposing the next attacks from the Civic Committee, the Civic Federation, Illinois Policy Institute, and their purchased media.  We must continue to defend our dignity with stubborn resolve. 

We are intrinsically bound to one another in this regard.  As Martin Luther King eloquently stated, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” We must urge our unions’ leadership to be absolutely prepared to defend our pension benefits and rights without apologies, without concessions, and without compromise.  

With Sincere Gratitude:

Thank you Gino L. DiVito, John M. Fitzgerald, Brian C. Haussmann, and Uri B. Abt from Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC; thank you John E. Stevens, John T. Shapiro, Michael D. Freeborn, and Dylan Smith from Freeborn & Peters LLP; thank you Michael T. Reagan from the Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan; thank you Donald M. Craven from Donald M. Craven, P.C.; and thank you Aaron B. Maduff, Walker R. Lawrence, and John D. Carr from Maduff Maduff LLC – Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Appellees!

Thank you Honorable John W. Belz!

Thank you Illinois Supreme Court Justices who voted (7 -0) to uphold the Illinois Constitution! We are grateful for those Illinois Supreme Court justices who proved Michael Madigan’s arrogant prediction was wrong!

Thank you Illinois Retired Teachers Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Retired State Employees Association, Illinois State Employees Association Retirees, State Universities Annuitants Association, Illinois Education Association, and all of their membership who paid their dues!

Thank you Eric M. Madiar, former Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate!

Thank you Fred Klonsky, John Dillon, and Ken Previti, et al.!

Most importantly, thank you prescient Delegates Helen Kinney and Henry Green for jointly sponsoring the Pension Protection Clause proposal as an amendment to the proposed Legislative Article at the 1970 Illinois Constitution! Thank you Delegate James Kemp and the citizens of Illinois who ratified Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution 45 years ago!”


Glen Brown

For the entire finding of the IL Supreme Court:

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