Illinois State Bar Association Recommends “Yes” Vote to Retain Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride

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October 1, 2020

Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-025      

Premier Legal Association Says Kilbride “Has Championed Access to Justice for All”

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluations Committee is recommending a “Yes” vote to retain Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, saying he has “championed access to justice for all” and led efforts to increase transparency during his time on the bench. The Illinois State Bar Association is the premier legal association for the state.

The recommendation follows a detailed investigation of his background and comprehensive evaluation process, including interviews of judges, practitioners and litigants from various legal backgrounds who know Kilbride or who have practiced before him. Areas of assessment include legal knowledge and ability, integrity, character, professional and judicial temperament, and health.

“It is an honor to receive the support of the Illinois State Bar Association, and it is incredibly humbling to know that backing is based on the recommendation of those who know my record best,” said Kilbride. “I’m particularly proud to be recognized for my efforts to ensure the justice system works for everyone, not just those with the most resources, and I’m committed to continuing that fight.”

Kilbride has received the backing of a broad bipartisan coalition, including law enforcement, elected officials, organized labor, legal professionals, and business leaders from across the Third Judicial District. Among the numerous prominent Republicans endorsing Kilbride are Gov. Jim Thompson, who backed Kilbride before his recent death, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justices Ben Miller and Robert Thomas, former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, former United States Attorneys Anton Valukas and Dan Webb and former Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross. Additional endorsement can be found at

Raised in Kankakee, Kilbride was inspired to become an attorney while helping to organize the United Farm Workers and later served as a legal aid attorney for clients in need. He served as Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice from 2010 until 2013, when he led the effort to place cameras in every courtroom across the state, pushed for digitization of records, and fought to increase access to the justice system. Kilbride was instrumental in the creation of the Illinois Supreme Court ‘Access to Justice Commission,’ which uses technology to make the courthouse accessible to people who cannot afford a lawyer. To save people from having to take a day off work, he pushed a measure that allows people to appear in court by phone or video rather than in person. In a long-overdue move for judicial fairness and access, he also pushed to provide certified interpreters at no-cost for those who speak limited English.

At the same time, Kilbride has developed a strong record of protecting crime victims, especially children. In 2020, he authored the majority opinion on a case that upheld barring child sex offenders from visiting public parks in Illinois. When an accused sexual predator attempted to get court authority to force a physical examination of a 3-year-old victim, Kilbride protected the child and refused to let that happen. He helped protect women and children by strengthening the ability of abused women to secure restraining orders against their attackers.

Kilbride believes in a justice system ensuring everyone’s voices are heard, not just those who have the most resources. He supported common-sense standards to prevent guilty verdicts from being unjustly overturned. In cases where the greatest consequences are at stake, Kilbride worked to ensure that true justice was carried out by backing provisions to ensure innocent people are not wrongly imprisoned.

About Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride is an independent, common-sense judge who has devoted his career to ensuring the justice system works for all. During his time on the state’s high court he served as Chief Justice, boosting transparency and public access. Kilbride has received more than 60 awards and honors that reflect his commitment to justice, hard work and community, including the prestigious ‘Award of Excellence in the Judiciary’ from the Illinois State Crime Commission. Kilbride, whose wife Mary teaches mathematics at Augustana College, is the proud father of three adult daughters. A graduate of Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee and St. Mary’s College, Kilbride earned his Juris Doctor from Antioch School of Law. He also received an honorary degree from Lewis University in Will County. For more information, please visit

The Third Judicial District spans the state’s east and west borders, taking in 21 counties primarily along and just south of I-80, to encompass the metropolitan areas of Galesburg, Kankakee, Peoria, Quincy and Rock Island/Moline. Its counties include: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Kankakee, Knox, La Salle, Marshall, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside and Will.

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A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s
official website ( ) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.