SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Supreme Court will delay its transition to implement new appellate court boundaries that were created by a recently approved judicial district map until further notice.
"Appeals and other matters shall continue to be filed in the judicial districts as they existed on June 3, 2021, until further order of the Court," according to the court order released on Monday.
Last month, lawmakers redrew four of the five judicial districts along with the state's legislative districts, the latter of which is a process required by the state constitution every 10 years following the decennial census. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the maps into law on June 4.
In the redraw, the 5th Appellate District, which covers southern Illinois, gained 11 counties that were previously in the 4th District, including the cities of Decatur and Champaign.
The delay is needed "in view of the numerous changes to the processing of appeals and the administration of the justice system in Illinois necessitated by (the new judicial map)," according to the order. That includes changes to e-filing and case management systems, redistribution of staffing and judicial resources, training for judicial stakeholders and education of the public and members of the bar.
The five judicial districts that are used for electing the seven Illinois Supreme Court justices are the same district boundaries used to elect judges within the five appellate court districts.
Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly opposed the new judicial maps, which were drawn by Democrats. They argued the new district boundaries were redrawn in response to former Justice Thomas Kilbride, a Democrat from the 3rd District, losing his retention election in 2020. The new district lines were drawn to maximize Democrats' chances of keeping a majority on the state's highest court, Republicans say.
But Democrats claim population shifts that resulted in Supreme Court districts that are no longer "of substantially equal population," which is required under the Illinois Constitution, necessitated the action.
Republicans also decried that the maps were not based on U.S. Census data, which will not be released until August due to the pandemic. Instead, the Democrats used the Census Bureau's American Community Survey data which is less detailed and precise.
Dennis J. Orsey, president of the Illinois State Bar Association, released a statement Monday saying the Bar Association agrees with the Illinois Supreme Court's decision "to temporarily pause the implementation of the legislatively enacted judicial redistricting plan in order for the Court to faithfully execute the plan."
"On behalf of the ISBA, I applaud our Supreme Court's leadership and foresight in recognizing that the changes necessitated by this legislation must be properly and thoughtfully implemented in order to ensure the efficient and orderly administration of our justice system," Orsey said in the statement.