The Illinois Supreme Court has a ethics and credibility problem. Then again, this is the state where the feds have brought the most public corruption arrests, so ethics clearly isn’t a course taught to public officials in Springfield. On Friday, one of the two justices at the center of a Motion for Recusal/Disqualification controversy filed an order denying the motion.
Justice Lizzy Rochford rejected the motion to disqualify herself and one other justice (the two newest justices) from hearing a case involving two named defendants that donated approximately 40% of their campaign funding for their run during the last election.
Yeah, that doesn’t look ethically challenged at all, does it?
What’s more, the two justices, both Elizabeth Rochford and Mary O’Brien declined to recuse themselves from hearing the case. Because, between them, 2.5 million reasons isn’t enough to question their impartiality.
Not only that, but each received endorsements in the race from GPAC, an Illinois gun control organization. According to GPAC, each of the endorsed candidates “demonstrated strong support” for gun control measures, including banning guns and magazines (which goes directly to the nature of the bill before the court). On top of that, GPAC says they endorsed candidates “with a good questionnaire.”
Nevermind the judicial ethics canons in the Land of Lincoln that say candidates are not to “make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court.”
Then there’s the photo of the Rochford woman standing shoulder-to-shoulder with gun control activists while holding a “Moms Demand Action” cookie.
The Center Square has news of the tainted justice at the Illinois Supreme Court:
(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court has denied a motion to disqualify two justices from hearing a challenge to the state’s new gun ban over perceived conflicts of interest. The two justices also declined to recuse themselves.
Before Elizabeth Rochford and Mary O’Brien were elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in November 2022, Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave each of their campaign funds half a million dollars from both his campaign account and a revocable trust, totaling $1 million to each. The two justices also received six-figure donations out of a campaign fund controlled by Illinois House Speaker Emanual “Chris” Welch,” D-Hillside.
As we alluded in the post title, the justices even had the unmitigated temerity to mock the motion for disqualification/recusal.
Late Friday, Rochford filed an order denying the motion.
“That contributors to my campaign committee might appear as counsel or parties before this court does not require my recusal from this case,” Rochford said. “Our supreme court rules specifically allow a judicial candidate’s campaign committee to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions and public support from lawyers.”
Rochford further said previous precedent “cautioned that courts must consider whether attacks on a judge’s impartiality are ‘simply subterfuge to circumvent anticipated adverse rulings.’”
“Plaintiffs cast sinister aspersions that contributions to my campaign committee were made to influence the instant litigation,” Rochford said. “Plaintiffs provide no factual basis for those aspersions.”
40% of the funding for your campaign – in Rochford’s case $1.35M – from two named parties isn’t enough reasons to recuse? Plus the endorsement that was supposedly based upon a questionnaire and the photo of her standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Moms Demand Action activists isn’t enough?
But then has the stones to characterize the motion as “simply subterfuge to circumvent anticipated adverse rulings.”