PCI: Supreme Court Win Could Impact Ill. Business

November 9, 2004

Backed by proponents of class action and tort reform, Republican Lloyd Karmeier handily defeated Democrat Gordon Maag with a 54 to 46 percent margin in a race for the Illinois Supreme Court, 5th District in the recent election.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), representing more than 35 percent of the property/casualty insurance market in Illinois, said the change in the makeup of the Illinois Supreme Court is a positive step in balancing the court system.

“The election of Lloyd Karmeier is a win for the people of the 5th District as well as the business community,” said Laura Kotelman, PCI regional manager and senior counsel. “The metro east area has long been known as a haven for frivolous lawsuits and unwarranted class action suits. This change in the makeup of the Supreme Court will allow a more balanced approach to the problems inherent here and will be a very welcome change.”

Illinois Democrats currently hold a majority on the Supreme Court, according to Kotelman. The Republican win tips the balance from 5-2 to 4-3, which could impact the outcome of some cases that go before the court. Incumbent Maag also sought to retain his seat on the 5th District Appellate Court but did not receive the required 60 percent of the vote to be retained.

After the election, Karmeier announced that he would appoint a committee to make recommendations to him about filling vacant judgeships in Southern Illinois. After taking office in December, he will have to make recommendations to the full Supreme Court for two justices to serve on the appeals court. Justices of the Supreme Court also fill judicial vacancies on the county level.

This Illinois Supreme Court race is the only one scheduled until the year 2010. The last Republican from Southern Illinois to serve on the state’s highest court was Byron O. House, a Supreme Court justice that served from 1957 to 1969. A 1970 Illinois Constitution instituted a system for electing judges by district.

A record amount of campaign funding of $7.6 million dollars was spent on this race breaking state and national records for judicial races around the country.

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