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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered that four lawsuits challenging Illinois' new pension reform law be consolidated.
 
The March 3 order transfers the case filed by a group of retired teachers in Cook County Circuit Court to Sangamon County Circuit Court, where the three other cases were filed. The court says all of the cases will be heard together in Springfield.
   
Each of the groups' lawsuits share the common claim that the new pension reform plan violates the state constitution, which says benefits may not be diminished or impaired.
 
Illinois' five public-retirement systems had a $100 billion unfunded liability when the Legislature passed the pension reform measure in December.
 
The bill saves an estimated $145 billion, largely by cutting benefits for employees and retirees.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A published report says groups with ties to the pension-reform law adopted last month have contributed close to $3 million to Illinois Supreme Court justices who might decide its fate.
 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that six of seven justices have taken money in the past 13 years from labor unions, business groups and a political committee controlled by Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
 
Retired teachers have sued to stop the pension-reform plan that cuts retiree benefits to reduce a $100 billion debt.
 
Most of the pension-related money went to former Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride. He accepted $2.5 million from both Madigan and business groups in a 2010 retention battle.
 
Current Chief Justice Rita Garman says court decisions are based on constitutional standards, not politics.
 
Published in Local News

The new chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court is taking office today. 

Justice Rita Garman was unanimously elected by her colleagues to the seven-member court.

She is the first of the state's top jurists to serve in virtually every judicial capacity on the circuit, appellate and Supreme courts.

Garman is the 119th chief justice and the second woman to hold the post.  She has been a judge since 1974 and begn her legal career with the Vermilion County Legal Aid Society.

She's replacing Justice Thomas Kilbride who served three years as chief justice. He resumes his associate justice post.

  

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's pleased the Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal of a ruling that found his veto of lawmakers' pay unconstitutional.

   The court issued its one-page order Wednesday. A hearing date has not been set.

   Quinn halted lawmakers' salaries in July.  He said they shouldn't get paid until they addressed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

   House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton then sued, arguing Quinn didn't have the authority to halt lawmaker paychecks.

   A Cook County judge in September ordered that legislators be paid immediately.

   Quinn appealed directly to the state's high court, saying his move was allowed through the state constitution.

   Quinn's spokeswoman says the governor will continue to not accept his own paycheck until pension reform is achieved.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' top Democratic legislative leaders are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to reject Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a lawsuit over legislative pay.

   Quinn halted lawmakers' pay in July until pension reform was achieved. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled last month that the move was unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to be sent back pay, with interest. An appeal is being reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

   House Speaker Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton dispute Quinn's argument that the Illinois constitution only bans mid-term increases in pay.Illinois' unfunded pension liability is close to $100 billion, due largely to lawmakers shorting or skipping payments. A committee of lawmakers has been working on one possible reform package that could save $138 billion over 30 years.

 
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Mary Ann McMorrow, the first woman to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court and the state's first female chief justice, has died.

Illinois Supreme Court spokesman Joseph Tybor, who was authorized to speak on the family's behalf, says McMorrow died Saturday at a Chicago hospital following a brief illness. She was 83.

McMorrow set numerous precedents. She was the only woman in her 1953 class at Loyola University School of Law, and became the first woman on Illinois' highest court in 1992. She served as chief justice from 2002 to 2005.

But when she retired in 2006, McMorrow told The Associated Press she never focused on being a trailblazer. She said she was "just trying to do the best I could."

McMorrow is survived by her daughter and her sister.
Published in Local News

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