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Higgins off-base

Updated: February 6, 2014 6:19AM



Jack Higgins’ drawing of Dec. 31 of President Barack Obama playing golf and a guy yelling at him about the economy made not a whit of sense. The economy has been growing steadily for months. Consumer sales — especially car sales — are through the roof, and the stock market is at an all-time high. So maybe President Obama should play a little golf.

Bill Brashler, North Center

Resolution for Rush

Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing-radio GOP champion, should take a lesson from Pope Francis and stop his bigotry, fear-mongering and right-wing zealotry and adopt, instead, some humility and concern for people less fortunate. This is my New Year’s wish and, if it comes true, we’ll all be better off in America.

Tom Minnerick, Elgin

Judges exempt from pension law

The Jan. 2, 2014, Sun-Times headline story “Courting Controversy” about Illinois Supreme Court judges’ possible conflict of interest if the new pension law for state officials, employees and retirees comes before that Court deserves a few comments.

Judges are not included in the new law. According to the story, when asked on the House floor why judges were excluded from the pension-reform bill, Speaker Madigan said that the “intent was to eliminate the possibility of a judicial conflict during the adjudication of this matter through the court system.”

Madigan’s response is nonsense. As a lawyer, he knows better.

Though infrequent, judges do decide cases where there is a “conflict of interest,” especially those involving laws that affect state officers (including judges), employees and retirees as a class, because somebody must decide the case. The legal principle is called the “Rule of Necessity,”

For example, the Weems case awaiting decision in the Supreme Court concerns health insurance laws/regulations for state officers (including Supreme Court judges), employees and retirees; and in 2009 the Supreme Court decided the Maddux case that concerned the constitutionality of the judges’ compulsory retirement statute, also applicable to Supreme Court justices.

Surely, Speaker Madigan is aware of the legal principle and the string of Supreme Court cases, expressly or impliedly, applying it.

Madigan’s statement on the House floor has the appearance of a cover story, hiding the real reason (whatever it may be) for not including judges in the new law. If the Supreme Court judges lobbied the Legislature to exclude judges from the new law, they will disregard Madigan’s statement if the case comes before them, unless there is an equal protection of law issue in the case.

Unfortunately, Madigan’s remark also gives the appearance of a legislative bribe to judges to uphold the new law’s constitutionality and creates an equal protection of law challenge as to the law’s applicability to only four rather than all five of the state’s pension systems.

Interestingly, if the Supreme Court upholds the law, will the Legislature amend it to include judges?

Dennis M. Dohm, retired Circuit judge,

Oak Lawn,

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