Lawmakers Pass Bill to Limit Constitutional Lawsuits to Cook and Sangamon County

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

May 26, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois General Assembly pushed through a measure that will require any constitutional challenge to state laws to be filed in either Cook or Sangamon counties.

The Democrat led Illinois House on Thursday voted 69-35 to force through a set of amendments to House Bill 3062, which they claim will stop “venue shopping” for lawsuits filed to challenge any ironclad law passed by the State of Illinois.  On May 19, the Democrat led Illinois Senate passed the original set of amendments by a vote of 37-16. The bill will now make its way to Governor J.B. Pritzker, who is expected to sign the bill into law.  Republican critics see this as a power grab by the Democrats which will limit the ability of the opposition to challenge unconstitutional laws, executive orders, and rules.

The so-called “anti-venue shopping” bill is in response to the State of Illinois being named as a defendant in several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of COVID-19-related executive orders decreed by Pritzker, as well as the controversial “No Cash Bail” law, and the assault-style weapons ban.  

Challenges to the above laws were filed in several of Illinois’ 102 counties.  Republicans see the filing restriction as a tool for the Democrats to dismiss cases that threaten their hold on power.  Democrats argue that limiting  judicial venues already applies for certain types of cases and would be more efficient and eliminate “frivolous cases” filed by the opposition.  Others say, in defending your rights, plaintiffs should be able to file lawsuits where they have a chance to be heard and not be expected to travel a great distance at great expense. 

In true fashion, lawmakers in favor of the bill ensured it would not apply to cases involving disputes between the State of Illinois and labor unions representing state employees.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.

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