The Chicago Tribune

Judge Temporarily Blocks Hastily Passed Election Law that Favored Democrats in November

May 22, 2024

(The Chicago Tribune)—A judge in Springfield on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction blocking a law passed by Democrats that would have prevented Republicans from slating candidates for legislative races not filled in the March primary.

Sangamon County Judge Gail Noll issued the order pending a hearing on June 3, which had been the statutory date for filling the unfilled candidate slots on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law on May 3 shortly after Democratic majorities in the House and Senate passed the legislation in a two-day tour de force.

Previously, local committees for the political parties could fill legislative ballot spots in which their party did not field a primary candidate after the primary election. The slated candidate was still required to obtain candidacy petition signatures to appear on the general election ballot.

The new law was viewed as giving Democrats, who have significant supermajorities in the House and Senate, an additional leg up in keeping their advantage over Republicans by preventing any late-arriving general election challenges.

Republicans had accused Democrats of using the slating ban as an incumbent protection effort. The law figured to have its most notable effect on a few downstate House Democrats who remain vulnerable to Republican challengers.

The court case was brought by the conservative Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center on behalf of four Republicans who were circulating candidacy petitions for the November ballot at the time Pritzker signed the new law, which had an immediate effective date. The pending litigation led the Illinois State Board of Elections to allow the slating process to continue.

The lawsuit argues that the law violated the ballot access rights of the four potential candidates by changing the law in the middle of the election process.

“We look forward to continuing to defend these fundamental rights in court and will be pressing forward to ensure the preliminary injunction becomes permanent,” Jeffrey Schwab, the Justice Center’s Senior Counsel, said in a statement.