Monday, July 1, 2013

Dear Conference Committee Members: Illinois pension reform is discriminatory

“Any statute which [is] imposed upon individuals…in order to redistribute resources and, thus, benefit some persons at the expense of others would extend beyond the implicit boundaries of legislative authority. Such a law would, thus, violate natural rights of property and contract… [This is a] disguised form of robbery… [Moreover, enforcement of a contract between the State of Illinois and its public employees must be] guided by its constitutional language and history” (Tribe, Laurence H. American Constitutional Law). If you haven’t read Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and the Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate Eric M. Madiar’s Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois? An Analysis of Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, please Click Here.  

It is a matter of public interest when current policymakers attempt to rob public employees of their constitutionally-guaranteed contracts, especially when past policymakers were the main cause of the underfunding of public pensions. It is also discriminatory.

"It is worth noting the inequity inherent in cutting pensions promised to state and local public servants based on… underfunding that was substantially caused, in many cases, by funding 'holidays' that government employers awarded themselves…" (Greenfield, Douglas L., Lahne, Susan G. How Much Can States Change Existing Retirement Policy? In Defense of State Judicial Decisions Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions) (Defending and Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions against the Legislative Siege). Please Click Here for a synopsis.

Punishing and victimizing public employees through a breach of contract instead of addressing the state’s inadequate revenue system and underfunding of the public pensions is a form of violence upon a group of people who have faithfully served the citizens of Illinois. It can be considered violative of due process and equal protection.

“…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV—Due Process and Equal protection, Section 1).

It is reprehensible when Illinois policymakers choose not to uphold their oath of office or protect the state’s constitutional contracts. It is deplorable when Illinois policymakers support and listen to wealthy interest groups like the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Civic Federation, and their sort – those organizations that drain state contracts of their legal and moral content and, thus, exploit public employees in Illinois.

-Glen Brown

Please consider reading 12 pragmatic and legal reasons to reject Illinois pension reform. Click on each of the 12 links for commentary on this issue by several well-respected attorneys: Madiar, Greenfield, Lahne, John Fitzgerald, Katherine O’Brien, Gino DiVito (also a retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice), Claude Rohwer (Professor of Law, Emeritus), Anthony Skrocki (Professor of Law, Emeritus), and Laurence Tribe (Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard). Thank you. Click Here.


  1. Ellen Schultz the author of "Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers" 2011, wrote that in many places public employees are beginning to look like the victims of witch hunting. Companies used accounting tricks and deception to steal from their employees. And now the legislature in Illinois is trying to steal from pensioners; break their contract with the state. It breaks the moral intergenerational compact. It started with corporations and now the stealing is from public employees. It is immoral. It is wrong. It is illegal. And it feels as if we are victims of witch hunting.

  2. The State of Illinois needs to fix their mistakes and not force the victims to become victims again. How many times can you steal from the same employee.