The Lone Justice Fighting For Retention

Oct 28, 2014

There's only one Illinois Supreme Court Justice on the ballot this November. Some high-dollar contributors are hoping they can remove him from office, something that has never before happened

Justice Lloyd Karmeier fought hard to get on the state's high court a decade ago. Business interests that want to make it harder to win big money in lawsuits helped get him there; his opponent was aided by unions and trial lawyers.

This time Karmeier has no opponent. He needs 60-percent of voters in Illinois' southernmost counties to vote "yes" and he'll retain his spot.

Trial attorneys, some of whom stand to gain hefty payoffs if cases before the Illinois Supreme Court go their way, contributed $1.8 million this month toward an effort to unseat him. Ads accuse Karmeier of letting corporations buy justice. 

They point to a pair of cases in which Karmeier ruled in favor of companies that donated to his 2004 campaign. Karmeier's campaign manager says the judge is ethical, and didn't need to recuse himself.

Head of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform David Melton says it's all troubling.

"We feared that money would increasingly play a prominent role in judicial elections.”

Melton says it breeds distrust, and could put pressure on judges' rulings.