Supreme Court Summaries


Opinions filed March 22, 2012



 

Wisnasky-Bettorf v. Pierce, 2012 IL 111253

Appellate citation: 403 Ill. App. 3d 1080.

 

      JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

      At the general primary of February 2, 2010, there was no name printed on the Republican ballot for the office of member of the St. Clair County board of review, and no candidate was nominated as a write-in. On March 25, 2010, the Republican Party’s central committee appointed Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf to be its candidate, and, on April 1, 2010, made a filing so indicating with the county clerk, utilizing a document entitled “resolution/certificate of appointment.” This designated individual then went out and circulated nominating petitions and filed them, along with her notice of appointment and other required documents, with the clerk. This petition-circulation procedure is described in paragraph 9 of the Election Code’s section 7–61 on vacancies, having been added to that statute effective January 1, 2010, just before the primary in question.

      Wisnasky-Bettorf’s name never did appear on the ballot for the November 2, 2010, general election. On April 26, 2010, objections were filed with the electoral board by Peggy Pierce, complaining that the Republican Party’s resolution was not filed within three days of its making, purportedly as required by another paragraph of section 7–61, namely, paragraph 3. The electoral board sustained the objection and entered a written decision on May 3, 2010, removing Wisnasky-Bettorf’s name from the ballot. The would-be candidate then sought judicial review in the circuit court of St. Clair County, but it confirmed the decision of the electoral board, and the appellate court affirmed on August 19, 2010. Wisnasky-Bettorf appealed to the supreme court.

      Because the election in question is over, this matter could be considered moot, but the supreme court addressed it under the exception for matters of public interest.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the statutory provisions had been misconstrued below. The section of the Election Code at issue, 7–61, consists of multiple undesignated paragraphs which address different circumstances. The situation here is that no party candidate’s name was printed on the primary ballot and no one was nominated as a write-in. This is dealt with in paragraph 9, which requires the appointee to circulate and file nominating petitions, in order, the supreme court said here, to make a showing of “grass roots” support after an appointment is made. Paragraph 9 says nothing about a “resolution” or its filing. Language regarding a resolution designating a candidate is found in paragraph 3, which deals with vacancies that occur because of death or resignation after there has been a name on the primary ballot. The requirement of filing a resolution within three days is found in paragraph 3, but that paragraph is not applicable here.

      The circuit and appellate courts’ judgments were reversed. No request had been made for a new election.