President Felice's Letter to the Editor and Statement in response to Gov. Rauner
ISBA President Richard D. Felice issued a Letter to the Editor distributed throughout the state and a statement responding to Gov. Rauner's comments on Tuesday critical of the Illinois judiciary.
Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor: _________________
This week, Gov. Rauner pointedly and unfairly attacked the integrity of the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois’ entire justice system. He labeled the system “corrupt” and said he did not “trust the Supreme Court to be rational” in its decisions.
As lawyers, we know Gov. Rauner’s attack is without foundation. We read the opinions authored by the Supreme and Appellate courts. We know they are decided without bias, based on the facts and evidence presented and the applicable law. We respect them as intelligent, well-reasoned decisions even when we don’t agree with them.
We also know the hard work judges do every day on behalf of those who seek access to justice. We see the difficult cases they decide. We know Illinois’ judicial system is not corrupt and that judicial decisions are rational.
As lawyers, we can appreciate the Governor’s interest in the justice system and the election of judges. It is a legitimate topic of debate. In fact, since the early 1980s, the Illinois State Bar Association has worked with political leaders on both sides of the aisle to promote merit selection and retention of judges and public financing of judicial elections. That makes it all the more disappointing that the Governor has launched an irresponsible attack without merit on the integrity of the entire judicial system. Instead, he should engage in constructive dialogue or propose legislation to work on these issues.
Richard D. Felice,
Illinois State Bar Association
Statement of the Illinois State Bar Association
It is most unfortunate that Governor Rauner has chosen to impugn the integrity of the Supreme Court of Illinois and the rest of the trial and appellate judges in our state by labeling them as part of a corrupt system.
Americans of every possible political persuasion participate in judicial campaigns, and their ability to participate in those elections is cherished and protected by the courts and Constitution. Currently, the Code of Judicial Conduct governs the ethical conduct of judges that includes whether a judge should recuse or be disqualified from hearing a specific case.
Since the early 1980s, the Illinois State Bar Association, working with Governor James R. Thompson and Senator Dawn Clark Netsch, has supported the concepts of merit selection of judges, merit retention of judges, and the public financing of judicial elections. We would hope that Governor Rauner might show the same kind of leadership and respect for our system of government as Governor Thompson did by proposing constructive legislation as opposed to issuing gratuitous, personal attacks that undermine the rule of law.