The League and Term Limits
With the Illinois Supreme Court’s announcement on Friday, August 22 that it would not be hearing the appeal of two lower court decisions that found the referendum creating Illinois General Assembly member term limits unconstitutional, the amendment will not be on the November ballot.
The amendment as proposed would have limited legislators to serving a total of eight years in the legislature. It would have decreased the size of the Illinois Senate from 59 to 41 and increased the House from 118 to 123. In addition, the threshold required to override a gubernatorial veto would have been increased from 3/5 of both chambers to 2/3 of both chambers.
LWVIL Position on Term Limits
The League of Women Voters of Illinois opposes constitutional or statutory term limitations for members of the Illinois General Assembly. The League supports accountability, representativeness and effective performance and holds an interest in the dynamic balance of power between the legislative and the executive branches.
This position is in line with the national League's position on Congress and the Presidency.
The Term Limits Initiative was declared invalid under the Illinois Constitution in a Circuit Court of Cook County Ruling on June 27, 2014, because the eight-year term limit only affects the eligibility or qualifications of an individual legislator and does not meet the structural and procedural requirements of Article XIV, Section 3.
The inclusion of a means by which to change the number of Legislative Districts and the number of votes necessary to override a Governor’s veto also put this initiative in conflict with the Free and Equal Clause in Article III, Section 3. According to the Court, separate questions in an initiative must be reasonably related to a common objective in a workable manner. Term limits do not appear to have any direct relationship either to increasing the size of the House of Representatives and decreasing the size of the Senate or to the vote threshold needed to override a Governor’s veto. On August 22, 2014, a three-member 1st District Appellate Court upheld the Circuit Court ruling. The Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case so the constitutional amendment on term limits will not appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot.