By Bethany Jaeger
Illinois citizens will not have a chance to vote on whether the state Constitution should be changed to allow voters to recall elected officials, including judges. The state Senate narrowly rejected a measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 70, that would have placed the so-called recall amendment on the ballot in November. (See more here and scroll down.)
There’s little to no chance that the General Assembly can approve any measure to pose a constitutional amendment to voters this year, given that the deadline to put those questions on the November ballot is Sunday, May 4. Neither chamber will be back in session until May 5.
It’s been a series of dramatics since the House approved a narrower measure to ask whether voters should be able to recall only constitutional officers and state legislators (it's House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 28). The Senate hijacked that bill and “improved” it to include judges and local officials. Top Senate Democrats, however, opposed the addition of judges and withheld their votes Thursday. The measure failed 33-19, with 2 voting present. It needed 36 votes to pass.
Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson said it was a travesty that the Senate stymied both measures. “This is truly a sad day in Illinois, that we’re not giving people the opportunity to have a say in what most people would suggest to be just competent government.” The sponsor, Sen. Dan Cronin, an Elmhurst Republican, said after the vote that fear ruled the day. “The people who voted against this, this is about their fear of being held to a higher standard. The world’s changing. They need to change with it.”
Opponents, including Democratic Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline, said although he’s had some serious disagreements with the current governor, recall is not the way to go. “The notion of recall is better suited for cars than for the governor of Illinois,” he said during floor debate. “Forget recall. The governor of Illinois should do the right thing, and that’s resign.”