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House rejects judicial experience standard
By Timothy Magaw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/23/2010 4:14 PM

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SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois House narrowly voted down a plan Tuesday that would have required judges to be licensed attorneys for at least 10 years before heading to the bench.

Republicans said the proposed amendment, sponsored by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, was a Democratic ploy to silence proposals that would change how legislative districts are mapped.

The Illinois Constitution limits the number of legislature-initiated constitutional amendments that could appear on the November ballot to three. Currently, one allowing for the recall of the governor is already slated for the ballot, and a number of others, including one to abolish the lieutenant governor office, are being considered.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego questioned Madigan about why the judicial amendment was needed now since it's an issue than can be dealt with anytime.

Madigan quipped in response, "What's wrong with today?"

Redistricting, Cross said, is an issue that needs the House's attention now in order to be addressed before the next legislative map is redrawn, which happens after every U.S. census.

Madigan called it "disappointing" that people would vote against the judicial amendment. "It's a question of what level of confidence should Illinoisans have in those that are administering justice," Madigan said.

The proposal fell short of the 71 votes needed to pass. However, Madigan invoked a procedural move that kept the proposal alive, preventing the vote total from being recorded. If Madigan can get the votes, the proposal could be recalled for another vote.