Illinoisans See the Legal Limits of Their Constitution

Following last week's ruling from the First District Court of Appeals in Chicago that said a question about whether or not a legislative term limits amendment to the Illinois constitution could not appear on November's ballot, Illinoisans have come face to face with the limits of their state constitution.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board even said this: "People of Illinois, an appellate court has spoken: Your constitution is stacked against you."

It's an accurate statement in more ways than the Tribune editorial board intended. The Illinois Constitution is designed to protect itself from amendments with grassroots origins. The authors of the 1970 constitution and the voters who ratified it made a clear statement: Constitutional amendments offered to voters should, with one narrow exception, come from elected lawmakers, not ordinary citizens.

In Illinois, constitutional amendments are limited to changing the structure and procedure of the legislature. The court ruling said this amendment was too broad, especially in that it had several other provisions in it that had nothing to do with term limits. What are all the legal ins and outs of such a decision, and what would be the ramifications if our constitution could be changed that way?

While the ruling might be bad news for those in favor of term limits and good new for those against them, almost all Illinoisans can agree that a housing market in decline is bad news all around, even when the symptoms can look like good news at first. A new report from RealtyTrac found that Illinois had the highest discounts on foreclosed houses out of every state in the country. This is good for buyers who want to scoop up the foreclosed homes at low prices, but RealtyTrac Daren Blomquist said this could be an indicator of a much bigger problem in the Illinois market.