Sixty-two state’s attorneys in Illinois asking Supreme Court to declare SAFE-T Act ‘null and void’

SAFE-T Act

A bi-partisan group of 62 state’s attorneys in Illinois — including state’s attorneys from Adams, Brown and Hancock counties — who have sued to overturn the SAFE-T Act released a joint statement on Monday, asking the Illinois Supreme Court to declare the law “null and void.”

“As the chief legal officers of our respective counties, we swore to protect and defend the rule of law,” the statement read. “Therefore, we are compelled to inform the people of the State of Illinois that the SAFE-T Act is unconstitutional and a serious threat to public safety — specifically, to victims of and witnesses to violent crimes in our communities.

“This is not political. We are Democrats and Republicans. Whatever the result of the various elections decided tomorrow, our fundamental legal concerns with the SAFE-T Act remain.”

Law enforcement officials have joined several of their colleagues from across the state to sue and challenge the legality of what is commonly known as the “SAFE-T Act.” The suit has been filed against Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Speaker of the House Chris Welch, Senate President Donald F. Harmon and Gov. JB Pritzker.

The group of attorneys wrote the legal concerns of the SAFE-T Act are:

  • It violates the constitutional requirement that all bills “shall be confined to a single subject.” The SAFE-T Act covers several “unrelated subjects” across its 764 pages.
  • A court’s ability to require a monetary bail is specifically stated in the Constitution. “The SAFE-T Act unconstitutionally eliminated that power without a constitutional amendment,” the attorneys wrote.
  • This elimination of the core judicial power to set bail to protect victims and ensure compliance with judicial orders, along with severe restrictions in a court’s discretion to issue warrants when defendants fail to appear in court, violates the separation of powers.
  • The act is vague. “Its terms cannot be reasonably understood by those mandated to follow them and are internally contradictory in many places,” the attorneys wrote.

“On these bases and others, we are requesting the court to declare the law null and void,” the statement read.

The litigation is now consolidated in Kankakee County in case number 2022CH16. A briefing schedule is set, and oral arguments are scheduled to be heard by the Hon. Thomas W. Cunnington on Dec. 7. Based upon the court order, the group of state’s attorneys are anticipating a ruling on Dec. 15.

“There has been much confusion and vitriol surrounding the passage and haphazard attempts to implement the SAFE-T Act during the past year and a half,” the statement read. “We are hopeful that now, calmer heads will prevail, the rule of law will be respected, and the judiciary in its wisdom will once again make it clear that the constitution’s mandates must be followed and the general assembly may not simply ignore them whenever it pleases.”

The statement was endorsed by the state’s attorneys from the counties of Adams, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cumberland, DeKalb, DeWitt, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Madison, Mason, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Moultrie, Ogle, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, Scott, Shelby, Stephenson, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Washington, White, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.

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