Thursday, September 22, 2022
SPRINGFIELD – The Supreme Court of Illinois ruled Thursday that former state legislators have no right to claw back raises they voted to reject, vindicating Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza’s 5-year-long fight against paying the former legislators.
“I’m so grateful the Supreme Court said “No” to these two former legislators who voted to forego their raises, then issued news releases praising their self-sacrifice in declining those raises as they asked their constituents to re-elect them. Years after they left the legislature they shamelessly sued me – and by extension, you, the taxpayers – saying they had no constitutional right to decline those raises and wanted them back.”
The unanimous bi-partisan decision holds that Comptroller Mendoza was right to raise the “Laches” legal doctrine which says you forfeit your rights if you wait too long to take action. In this case, former state senators Mike Noland and James Clayborne waited too long until after they voted to reject raises or left legislative office to file their suit, the court held.
“We conclude that under the facts here, where plaintiffs, former legislators, agreed to, acquiesced in, and voted for the Salary Reduction Laws, plaintiffs cannot now be allowed to challenge the reductions in their salaries during their previous terms in office,” Justice P. Scott Neville wrote for unanimous court. “Further, we vacate the circuit court’s orders finding that the Legislative Salary Clause prohibits mid-term changes in legislators’ salaries during their terms in office.”
“Today’s ruling is a victory for taxpayers, who could have been on the hook for $10 million or more had these former legislators prevailed,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “I want to thank Attorney General Kwame Raoul for standing with me and for taxpayers in this lawsuit.”