Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Antedated Court Cases: Challenging the Pension Clause, etc.

Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution states:  “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or any local government, or any agency or instrumentality of either, shall be an enforceable, contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” (Helen Kinney and Henry Green were the delegates who jointly “sponsored the pension clause proposal as an amendment to the proposed Legislative Article” at the 1970 Illinois Constitution).

To let the courts decide is a reckless disregard of a senator’s and representative’s duty to uphold the State of Illinois and the United States Constitution. Besides the datum that a State cannot pass any law “impairing the obligations of contracts” (Article I, Section 10, the Constitution of the United States of America), Appellate and Supreme Court cases are costly lawsuits at the taxpayers’ expense. 
1974       Peters v. City of Springfield… firemen filed suit
Pension rights are “earned.” There is no distinction between “earned” and “unearned” pension benefits… “The Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual relationship that is subject to modification through contract principles.”

1975       People ex. Rel. Illinois Federation of Teachers v. Lindberg
                …can’t force the General Assembly to fund the pension at a specific percentage
                (See McNamee ’96 and Sklodowski ‘98).

1979       Kraus v. Board of Trustees… Police Pension Fund, Niles
                Law existing at the time of “vesting” is incorporated into employee’s agreement…
Pension benefits commence at the time employee contributions begin… General Assembly cannot modify benefits.  “The Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual relationship that is subject to modification through contract principles.”

1982       Village of Sherman v. Village of Williamsville
                Record of proceeding of Constitutional Convention (21 July 1970)…
                Rights are fixed when an employee embarks upon employment.

1985       Felt v. Board of Trustees (Judges)
…can’t diminish terms of contract with pension system… Pension based upon salary of last day of service or last year. “The Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual relationship that is subject to modification through contract principles.”

1985       Taft v. Board of Trustees, Police, Village of Winthrop Harbor
                Employees have contractual rights regarding increases in pension benefits.

1987       Carr v. Board of Trustees… Police (Peoria)
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.

1987       Buddell v. Board of Trustees State University Retirement System (SURS)
                …can’t diminish terms of contract with pension system…
                Pension Code allows employees to purchase service credit for time in the military.
“The Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual
relationship that is subject to modification through contract principles.”

1988       DiFalco v. Board of Trustees… Fireman’s Pension of Wood Dale
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.

1991       Schroeder v. Morton Grove… Police
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.

1992       Hannigan v. Huffmeister
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.

1993       Barber v. Board of Trustees of Village of Barrington
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.

1996       McNamee v. State
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.
Asks questions whether “the Pension Clause mandates that the pension system be funded at a particular funding percentage or according to a funding schedule.”  The Pension Clause “creates an enforceable contractual relationship that protects only the right to receive benefits… a cause of action would exist if legislation diminished a person’s right to receive benefits or placed the pension system on the verge of default or imminent bankruptcy.”

1998       People ex. Rel. Sklodowski v. State
Vested Case Issue: an employee acquires a “vested” right when he or she enters the pension system.  (See Lindberg ‘75/McNamee ‘96) “Clause does not create a contractual basis for participants to expect a particular level of funding [unfortunately].”

1999       Doyle v. Holy Cross Hospital
Continued employment does not constitute supporting unilateral modification of an existing employment contract.

2001       Miller v. Retirement Board of Policemen (Chicago)
                …can’t diminish terms of contract with pension system…
“The Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual
relationship that is subject to modification through contract principles.”

2007       Ross v. May Co.
Continued employment does not constitute supporting unilateral modification of an existing employment contract. 

Added May 8, 2015:   Doris Heaton, et al. v. Pat Quinn, in his capacity as Governor of the State of Illinois, et al.
“…The judgment of the circuit court declaring Public Act 98-599 to be unconstitutional and permanently enjoining its enforcement is affirmed.”
 

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