Yesterday, we began our preview of the Illinois Supreme Court’s November term with Jones v. Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund, which involves a decision from the Circuit Court of Cook County striking down SB 1922, a bill aimed at saving the Chicago public employee pension funds. Today, we conclude our preview of Jones with a look at the Justices’ individual voting records.
In Table 91 below, we show the percentage of the time each Justice has voted for the employer in the public pension cases that Justice has participated in. We see that the Court does not divide along party lines for this issue. The Justices most frequently voting for the employer are the Chief Justice, Justice Burke and Justices Freeman (Justices Burke and Freeman have recused in Jones) and Thomas. If any (or all) of these Justices question the City and the State significantly more heavily than the plaintiffs in Jones, then the employers are likely headed for a defeat. On the other hand, if Justices Kilbride, Karmeier or Theis appear skeptical of the plaintiffs’ position, then the Chicago pension reform act may survive.
Let’s take a somewhat different look at the data and focus on the Appellate Court decision. In Table 92 below, we show the data for how often each Justice has voted to reverse decisions won by the employer and employee below. Jones arrives at the Court as a lower-court win for the employees. Among the Justices participating in Jones, Justices Karmeier and Thomas and Chief Justice Garman are the most likely to vote to reverse employee wins from the lower court. On the other hand, Justices Theis, Kilbride and Karmeier are most likely to vote to reverse employer wins below.
Join us next week for a data-centric preview of Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings, the other civil case on the Court’s November argument docket.