Many state Attorneys General have pushed back against the Trump administration’s anti-civil liberties initiatives. These efforts have included litigation challenging the administration’s policies, support for state legislation and policies designed to mitigate the harm caused by those policies, and assuming civil rights enforcement responsibilities that the administration has abandoned.
Will you respond to the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back criminal justice reform, police reform, prison reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, freedom of the press, and other civil rights and civil liberties? If so, how?
DID NOT RESPOND.
Criminal Justice reform is much needed in Illinois, as well as the United States. I have taken the position that I will not criminally prosecute anyone for non-violent marijuana offenses, and will actively try and have people released from prison that are only incarcerated for non-violent marijuana offenses. Furthermore, I will actively push to starting treating individuals that commit drug offenses as health issues rather than criminal matters. I do not believe that arresting someone for a drug offense and locking them in a cage for a period of years does anything to address that underlying problems generally associated with substance abuse. I would like to offer treatment for those individuals to hopefully address the under lying issues as well as provide legitimate job skill training for all inmates so once they are released from prison they have better options for employment in an effort to prevent them from falling back into old habits.
Police Reform and Prison Reform is much needed in Illinois, as well as the United States. There are two major ways to improve police practices in Illinois. The first is to stop overworking law enforcement officers and the other is to hold bad acting law enforcement officers accountable for their actions.
When an individual is running on inadequate sleep, they are not as mentally sharp as they would be otherwise. They are also crankier compared to a person that is well rested. Law enforcement officers are people like everyone else and they are subject the daily stressors just like everyone else. A simple way to alleviate some of these stressors is not to overwork our law enforcement officers.
Due to years of government corruption, there seems there are two sets of laws in Illinois. One set of laws for regular people, and one set of laws for those that have government affiliation. We have to start holding bad acting government officials and employees accountable for their bad acts just like regular people. Any government official or employee that helps cover up the bad acts of a co-worker should be criminally prosecuted as an accomplice to the crime they helped cover up. In the event that a government employee strays away from investigative procedures and techniques to the point it shows favoritism to a bad acting government employee, I would seek to hold the individual accountable as accomplice depending on how poor the investigation was performed. If a criminal conviction could not be obtained by the bad actor but it was objectively apparent they failed to adhere to their duties and responsibilities, I would initiate quo warranto proceedings to have that person removed from their job to open up the position for a good acting government employee.
In regards to voting rights, we need to encourage as many people in Illinois, as well as the United States to get out and vote. We need to have broad access to allow people vote, including extended hours for early voting, and adequate voting locations for Election Day. Consolidation of polling place to make it more difficult to vote for individuals is inexcusable. I will fight to ensure these issues do not arise in Illinois, and when they do arise I will ensure they are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
With all of that in mind, in an effort to maintain voting integrity, I support voter identification laws. Voter fraud is a problem faced for hundreds of years in America. I do not believe it would be such a burden to require an ID to vote. I would not want someone to be prevented from voting for not being able to afford an ID and I would not want voter ID laws turned into a new type of poll tax. In the event a person cannot afford a voter ID, the state would provide one for them at no cost. Many Illinoisans already have driver’s licenses, state ID’s, FOID cards, and passports that should all be acceptable forms of identification at the polling booth. Only individuals that do not already possess one of these ID’s would need to obtain a voter ID. I believe this would be a minimal cost to taxpayers to ensure the integrity of our elections.
Immigrants should have the same rights that non-immigrants have and I will fight to ensure their individual rights are protected just like anyone else. Anytime their rights are violated and this information is provided to the attorney general’s office it will be investigated.
Members of the LGBTQ community are citizens just like nonmembers of the LGBTQ community, and as such, their rights should be protected just like anyone else’s. Any accounts of discriminatory practices will be investigated and handled based on the objective findings of the investigation.
In matters involving reproductive rights, I support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. It would be nice to live in a world where all life is preserved, but the decision should not be left up to the government in its entirety because an individual knows how run their life better than the government. With that in mind, I adamantly oppose any abortions taking place where the mother is healthy and the child could otherwise be born healthy due to it reaching the point of viability.
Freedom of the Press is one of the most vital rights guaranteed to the American people by the United States Constitution. Any attacks on the freedom the press should be met with lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of these attacks.
I also strongly support an individual’s right to freely associate with organizations of their choosing. With this concept in mind, I would challenge the constitutionality of the McCarren-Ferguson Act of 1945. This federal law grants state’s the ability to allow for insurance monopolies within their state. Maybe in 1945, when the sharing of information required mailing documents or in person delivery, this law made sense, and it might have been a cost saver. Now, in 2018, it is an undue restriction on an individual’s legal right to freely associate with organizations of their choosing. In the modern day, anytime you meet with an insurance rep, your information is uploaded into a computer and various computer programs run calculations to determine your insurance rates based on various factors. With the internet and the instantaneous exchange of information via modern technology, the government no longer has a legal justification to allow monopolies like this. Once we open up the healthcare market, allowing consumers to purchase insurance policies across state lines, we will see healthcare costs drop from open competition among health insurance carriers.
I will not hesitate to become involved in national issues, including by filing suit against the federal government when necessary, whenever the rights, protections and values of Illinois residents are threatened.
The Trump administration has threatened constitutional rights, legal rights and the rule of law in unprecedented ways, and state attorneys general have emerged as one of the strongest lines of defense against these attacks. Historically, the United States attorney general would typically intervene to protect citizens against state-level violations of their rights, but today the roles have shifted such that state attorneys general must step up to protect their states’ citizens from overreach by the federal government, while the U.S. attorney general looks on passively or actively participates in the attacks.
By applying pressure, state attorneys general have succeeded in blocking an irresponsible and extreme Trump administration settlement which would have allowed for the online distribution of designs for untraceable, homemade 3D-printed guns. State attorneys general have also been a critical part of finding a solution to the inhumane separation of immigrant families, filing suit to stop this heartless policy and force the government to reunite families. When the federal government stepped back on net neutrality, data privacy, environmental conservation, protecting students from financial exploitation and defending the rights of sexual assault victims on college campuses, state attorneys general stepped up and took action in court. They have filed suit to stop the Trump administration from sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and taking away Americans’ healthcare access.
Illinois’ current attorney general has participated in many of these suits and stepped up to force a Chicago Police Department consent decree when the U.S. Department of Justice abandoned its duty to uphold respect for civil rights in law enforcement. She also recently helped secure federal money for policing that had been withheld because of Chicago’s and Illinois’ posture of fostering cooperation between law enforcement and immigrant communities, rather than squandering that trust and wasting taxpayer dollars doing ICE’s job. Illinois’ constitution and Human Rights Act offer our state in particular a firm legal foundation from which to undertake civil rights actions. As attorney general, I will be well-positioned to act as the state’s advocate-in-chief but also go to court to defend our most deeply valued rights.
These are all examples of how state attorneys general can protect Illinois families and communities at a time when the federal government is putting them at risk. I will continue to participate in these types of suits, work with my counterparts in other states and prepare to take action as new issues arise – for example, if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the protection to access abortion in Illinois is challenged. I will also continue the work I began by introducing legislation to remove Illinois from the Crosscheck database program. As attorney general, I will aggressively investigate any attempts to interfere in Illinois elections, whether it’s by jeopardizing voter privacy, election integrity or the right to vote.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve engaged in conferences with many of the Democratic attorneys general who have been at the forefront of filing suits against the administration. I have developed relationships that will allow me to individually and collectively participate in these actions as attorney general. Illinoisans should be able to rely on the attorney general to proactively defend them against legal threats regardless of the source.