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Monday, November 28, 2022

Court Will Not Issue Injunction as to Future Legislation

In 2016, voters approved the Safe Roads Amendment to the Illinois Constitution which restricts government expenditure of transportation-related fees and taxes to transportation-related purposes. After the amendment was passed, a group of contractors, builders, and unions sued Cook County claiming the County was violating the amendment by spending transportation-generated revenues on non-transportation expenditures. The County's defense was that it was exempt from the Amendment as a home-rule unit of government, which defense was rejected in a previous lawsuit that made its way to the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this year.

Just a few months after the Illinois Supreme Court issued its rulings, the plaintiffs went back to court asking for an injunction against the County's draft budget for FY 2023 because plaintiffs claimed that the draft budget indicated that the County intended to continue to use transportation-related revenues for non-transportation purposes. The circuit court held a hearing and ultimately denied the motion for a preliminary injunction finding that the plaintiffs claims were "speculative."

On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court also ruled in favor of the County but on "ripeness" grounds. Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association, et al. v. County of Cook. The Appellate Court noted that only enacted legislation can be found unconstitutional, not draft or future legislation that has not yet been enacted. The Court rejected the plaintiffs' request that the Court order the County to adopt an appropriations ordinance that complies with the constitutional amendment, as that would require the Court to render an advisory opinion on future legislation. The Court also noted that granting an injunction to order the County to do or not do something in its appropriations ordinance would "meddle into the legislature's exclusive domain of drafting and enacting laws" in violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine.

In sum, the Court held that the plaintiffs' motion for an injunction as to the County's future appropriations ordinance was premature because it was filed before any ordinance was adopted and should be denied as Courts will not weigh in on the constitutionality of legislation that has not yet been enacted.


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