Quad-City Times endorses Justice Thomas Kilbride

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In Illinois’ system of government, Supreme Court justices face a retention vote every 10 years.

This year, it’s Justice Tom Kilbride’s turn, and we’re seeing a repeat of 2010. Special interests are urging voters to reject him, and they’re spending a lot of money to do it.

To be retained, Kilbride must get 60% of the vote.

We believe the people should vote “yes” and retain Justice Tom Kilbride.

Since first taking a seat on the bench nearly 20 years ago, he has taken part in more than 1,800 decisions. His critics, funded in part by some who refuse to disclose their identities, have seized on a handful of decisions to target him. In the cases we examined, these critics misconstrue or mislead on the issues at hand. Typically, they’ve turned on the finer points of the law and the state Constitution, but that doesn’t fit into today’s bumper sticker campaigns, so this has turned into an argument about politics.

That’s a shame. To turn a Supreme Court justice out of office should mean meeting a pretty high bar, not just disagreeing with a few decisions. We think most voters agree.

Frankly, we cringe at the idea that a retention election can boil down to a few decisions. Is there a better way to politicize our courts?

Here are the facts: Kilbride is one of seven justices on the court. The opinions he is being most criticized for are ones in which he was in the majority, or that were unanimous. He has won bipartisan support from judges, law enforcement and others who are acquainted with his work and with how the courts work. The Illinois Bar Association has recommended his retention and gives him high marks on a range of categories.

Kilbride also has brought credit on the court by making it more transparent and accessible, including being a champion for putting cameras in the courtroom.

Voters should put politics aside and vote to retain Justice Tom Kilbride on the Supreme Court. He, and we, deserve it.

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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 ( www.elections.il.gov ) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.