As Justice Overstreet wrote in his dissent that was joined by the other Republican member of the Court, Justice Holder White, “The individual rights vested in the Illinois Constitution’s bill of rights are not subordinate to legislative power; the opposite is true. Therefore, in exercising our judicial power, this court may not alter or ignore the plain language of our constitution as set out by the citizens, no matter how strongly the court agrees with the public policy underlying the abolishment of monetary bail. The majority’s analysis, however, does just that.” I could not agree more with this sentiment.
Reading through the opinion, I would like to say that the matter is fully settled; however, the lack of specific constitutional reasoning as to the Bail Clause of the Bill of Rights in this “facial constitutional” challenge means that there very well will likely be other challenges, “constitutional as applied”, when individual defendants are detained without any possibility of release for various offenses in direct contravention of the Illinois Bill of Rights. While the Court held that the legislature could eliminate cash bail without the approval of the People through a referendum, the Court did not even attempt to address the issue of legislatively expanding nonbailable offenses beyond what the Bill of Rights allows though the issue was in front of them, which ultimately can lead to more chaos than previously envisioned with different courts throughout the State making varying decisions in a multitude of individual cases with different offenders and different offenses and different interpretations of the application of those rulings.
Ultimately, the Court has spoken in our challenge to protect the constitutional rights of the People, particularly victims. Regardless of our criticisms of the Court’s ruling as having the appearance of being based on policy preference and partisanship rather than constitutional reasoning or prior Supreme Court decisions, as well as our criticisms of the dangerous policies pursued by those currently controlling the legislative branch and statewide executive offices, law enforcement in White County will, as our system requires, continue to operate with fidelity to the law and will carry out our duties according to the law as the Court has decided. Today’s ruling is a reminder that elections, including and at times most importantly judicial elections, have consequences. Consequently, unless there is a change in this new status quo, we will enforce the law within the parameters of the Pretrial Fairness Act as passed, signed, and for now judicially approved into law when those provisions go into effect on September 18, 2023.”