Campaign Launched to Highlight Importance of Illinois Court Races In Wake of U.S. Supreme Court Rulings


Friday, July 22, 2022

Alex Hanns, GPAC
Anders Lindall at 312-415-0403

Campaign Launched to Highlight Importance of Illinois Court Races In Wake of U.S. Supreme Court Rulings

 Chicago — A new drive was unveiled today to alert and educate Illinois voters about the critical importance of the November races for the Illinois Supreme Court.  More than 100 civic leaders, legal experts and public officials have joined forces to support the “Protect Our Court” campaign.

“Recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have drastically curtailed federal legal protections for Illinois residents in the areas of reproductive freedom, safety from gun violence, environmental protection, voting access and more,” said William McNary, Co-Director of Citzen Action/Illinois, the statewide progressive advocacy coalition. “Consequently, the Illinois Supreme Court remains the bulwark to protect those rights  but this November’s elections will decide the court’s balance and direction.”

McNary noted that judicial elections are traditionally of low voter interest. The new campaign aims to increase voter attention to the state Supreme Court races and educate them on their rights that are at risk.

Participating in the launch event were 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Larry Rogers, Jr., Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review, Julie Hamos, former Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Renato Mariotti, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Betty Magness, the Illinois Political Director for the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, Howard Learner, President of the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Kathleen Sances, President of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee – Illinois.

“The extremist drift of the U.S. Supreme Court in its recent decisions undermines fundamental rights for Illinoisans — key protections that are supported by strong majorities of voters,” said Cong. Schakowsky. “The Illinois Supreme Court remains a bulwark to protect justice, fairness and our rights.  Unfortunately we have already seen big money right-wing political forces intervene to push their agendas in state Supreme Court elections.”

“When the U.S. Supreme Court discarded 50 years of a fundamental Constitutional right to reproductive freedom with Dobbs decision, the election Illinois Supreme Court justices became the greatest importance to all Illinois women and families on November 8th”, said Hamos.

“Just last month the radical-right members of the federal court struck down a New York handgun law. While that ruling did not affect us herein Illinois, it easily could have,” said Sances. “That’s why we must make sure the Illinois Supreme Court acts as a firewall against the SCOTUS.  From the mass shooting in Highland Park to the everyday violence in Chicago and other cities, no community is immune to the tragic toll of gun violence”

The campaign will undertake a range of activities to inform voters including research and distribution of information on the rights at stake, education of the members of participating organizations, and direct voter contact through volunteer activists urging individuals in relevant districts to vote in the Supreme Court races. It will not make endorsements of specific candidates.

“Our purpose is to alert voters of their rights that are at risk and educate them on the records of those who are running for election or retention in the Supreme Court races,” McNary added.  “We believe that once voters are so informed, that they will make the right choices.”

The campaign’s supporters also include eight Members of Congress and other public officials including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch, University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey R. Stone and numerous other legal experts including former U.S. Attorneys and law faculty, as well as Lew Collins, President Emeritus of the Illinois Institute of Technology and dozens of other civic leaders from advocacy, labor and civil rights organizations (full list attached.)


Protect Our Rights, Save Our Illinois Supreme Court


Julie Hamos, Attorney
Former Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Betty Magness
Illinois Political Director, Rainbow-Push Coalition

Renato Mariotti
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Larry Rogers, Jr.
Commissioner, Cook County Board of Review


Statement of Principle
As leaders in our communities, we are deeply concerned about the rightward drift of the U.S. Supreme Court and its recent decisions that undermine the fundamental individual rights, voting rights, equal access to justice, and democratic freedoms of our nation. Though much remains to be done, we have made important strides here in Illinois in respecting those vital rights and goals. These advances, however, are imperiled by the current direction of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Illinois Supreme Court remains a bulwark to protect justice, fairness and the fundamental rights of Illinoisans. We have already seen extremist political forces intervene to push their agendas in the state Supreme Court elections. Consequently, we have come together to highlight the importance of this year’s Illinois Supreme Court races, and to educate the Illinois public  on the issues at stake, and to support a court that will protect the rights of all Illinoisans.

As the Lake County State’s Attorney, I am honored and humbled every day to lead the fight against crime, and to strive to ensure equal and just treatment under the law. I have been an attorney for twenty-two years – and each of those years has made me a stronger and smarter advocate for people, for ideas, and for the principles that unite us all.

I am so proud to lead an office of 140 dedicated colleagues who serve the public by prosecuting crime, advocating for victims, and planning crime prevention programs. I am also proud to work with hundreds of Lake County police officers on a daily basis to connect with every community and to develop comprehensive, holistic plans to respond to the mental health and economic crisis that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one particular day, July 4, 2022, I was saddened, inspired, and motivated by the bravery of so many people. We will always stand with the victims and honor the police and other first responders who ran toward the danger. Just as so many heroes that day thought only of themselves, I also witnessed the prosecutors in my office answer the call to serve survivors and their community – even on one of its darkest days.

Every moment that I have been your legal representative, I have worked tirelessly to oversee prosecutions and to implement policies that make my family and my neighbors safer in the short term and in the long term. That is the job of the State’s Attorney: to prosecute, to innovate, and to strategically plan.

I was raised in a small town. My parents are teachers, and from them, I learned that everyone must be treated equally and that America’s sacred mission is to provide a political, economic, and legal system that allows anyone to prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth. After graduating from Knox College and the University of Chicago Law School, I spent two years at a first-rate civil law firm in Chicago where I learned that hard work and attention to detail on every case mean the difference between success and failure.

With my wonderful wife Stephanie, I am raising my two sons, Sam and Teddy, in Lake County. Nothing is more important to me than my family’s safety and I bring that passion and determination to protect all families with me to work every day.

I joined the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in 2003 and started my own law firm in 2009. From 2003 until 2020, I watched the Lake County legal system fail to prioritize violent crime, prevent wrongful prosecutions, or address racial disparities.

So, in 2019, I decided to run for State’s Attorney so that I could serve our community by improving a local legal system that cared more about covering up its mistakes and biases than uncovering new and innovative ways to help people.

I won the 2020 election, and became the first Democrat to hold this position in 40 years. Bringing in a new party wasn’t as important as ending 40 years of one mindset that had forgotten the people and that had failed to act urgently to develop new strategic plans to prevent crime while also ensuring that each prosecution is smart, moral, and just.

We have followed through on our promises. We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others.

We have been awarded a large federal grant to bring the first ever Human Trafficking Task Force to Lake County. We have deepened our investment in people by bringing in more victim specialists and raising the salaries of many of our prosecutors.

But the work goes on. We must expand our prevention efforts that are starting with the Gun Violence Prevention Initiative launched in 2022. And we know that the opioid crisis touches thousands of lives throughout this country.

I am proud to serve on the Executive Board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative which has been working tirelessly since its founding in 2012 to reverse a devastating trend of increased overdoses. In 2022, our office was part of a national settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

As an attorney of 22 years, I have committed my life to helping people, and I have conducted over 70 jury trials in Lake County, and handled appeals that have culminated in over 20 oral arguments before the appellate court and Supreme Court of Illinois.

I see my time in this office as the next phase of helping a community that I love and where I have chosen to raise my family. In my first term, we have made Lake County safer and fairer through just prosecutions, constitutional policing, and innovative crime prevention policies.