Illinois' Intolerable Act

Illinois' Intolerable Act

In the wake of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the British parliament responded by passing a series of laws known in England as the Coercive Acts; better known in the U.S. as the Intolerable Acts. Among the new laws meant to punish colonists for their refusal to kowtow to Parliament imposing taxation without representation was the Administration of Justice Act, which allowed royal governors to hold trials for crown officials to be held in England and not the colony where their alleged crimes were committed. Patriots were outraged by the law, with George Washington declaring in a letter at the time that the act would make it impossible for justice to be obtained as a result of the government’s actions.

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Now Illinois has its own Intolerable Act; HB 3062, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday. Under the provisions of the new law, Illinois residents who want to challenge the constitutionality of any Illinois law are now forbidden from bringing a court challenge in the vast majority of counties because the Democrats in charge of the legislature aren’t happy about downstate judges putting a halt to their intrusions on our individual rights.

The amendment to House Bill 3062 makes the counties that are home to Springfield and Chicago the only places that the state government will hear arguments that it violated the constitution after two high-profile cases — a challenge to Illinois’ no-cash bail law and its semi-automatic gun ban — were filed in Kankakee County and Macon County.

Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said his bill was intended to stop favorable “venue shopping” for lawsuits and would still allow individuals to bring cases against the state in local courts, but not cases that seek to overturn state law.

They’re not even hiding their contempt for the rule of law and the rights of Illinois residents. Harmon and other Democrats don’t like that circuit court judges in more conservative parts of the state have ruled against their anti-2A and soft-on-crime statutes, so they’re now playing keep away from those courts and forcing Illinois residents to bring their challenges before judges in Democrat strongholds.

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Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) told The Center Square that the law would tilt those cases in favor of the state, since Cook and Sangamon counties are heavily Democrat.

“And it’s time that you start showing some respect to the people of Illinois,” Plummer said. “Quit limiting their rights, quit taking their rights away, and frankly when you take their rights away, at least give them the decency and the respect to allow their concerns about their rights being taken away be heard in a local courthouse.”

“They all eventually end up in the (Illinois) Supreme Court,” Harmon said. “Which, by the way, sits in Sangamon County and Cook County.”

Sure, just like every federal lawsuit ends up at SCOTUS. But we’re not compelled to file any and all constitutional challenges to federal gun control laws in D.C. Circuit Court, which would be a huge burden on plaintiffs and would have a chilling effect on litigation seeking to undo violations of our rights. That’s not a bug but a feature of the new restrictions on constitutional cases in Illinois.

Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis), echoed Plummer’s sentiment, saying, “You know, where I live, I’m closer to the state capitol of Tennessee than I am Illinois, and I’m almost as close to Atlanta, Georgia, as I am Chicago, Illinois,” he said. “So to say if this body passes an unconstitutional law, in order for me or another person in my community to contest that law, I’ve got to travel a great distance and bear that expense that comes with that, is not fair to the individuals in these communities.”

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I’d say it’s not only unfair, but arguably a violation of the due process and equal protection under the law guaranteed us under the Fourteenth Amendment. A resident in Effingham County who wants to challenge any given law in court now faces a much more difficult road than a resident in Cook County simply because the state’s Democratic majority believes those Cook County and Sangamon County judges are more likely to rule in the state’s favor.

Personally, I can’t wait for this law to be challenged, and I suspect that we’ll see several lawsuits to that effect soon filed not only in the very counties where these lawsuits are now verboten, but in federal court as well. I doubt that the courts are going to look kindly on HB 3062 and the contempt it shows for downstate residents, and I’m looking forward to Illinois’ own Intolerable Act getting the judicial smackdown it deserves.

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