It was not too long ago Lisa Madigan declared a financial emergency and attacked the state’s public employees and retirees. Madigan and other self-interested politicians insisted on cutting pensions as their solution for the state’s budget problems, instead of considering more comprehensive, legal and ethical strategies for addressing the state’s antiquated revenue system and unfunded liabilities the Illinois General Assembly had created.
Of course, there was never a threat to the “public’s safety, health, and morals as well as peace, well-being and order of the state”; nor was the State of Illinois dealing with an economic emergency of such magnitude that the state’s politicians were compelled to invoke such powers “to protect the state's citizens and serve a reasonable public purpose or need.”
What Madigan and the Illinois General Assembly attempted to do, nevertheless, was violate the state’s pension and contract clauses, due process and equal protection rights, the right of eminent domain, and also provisions in the U.S. Constitution, such as the taking of property without due process of law and equal protection, and ex post facto law.
What Madigan and the Illinois General Assembly learned on May 8, 2015 was what many of us knew: the state's chronic underfunding of its public pension systems for decades cannot warrant the impairment or diminishment of public employees' pension benefits and rights, and Madigan and the Illinois General Assembly could not diminish a constitutionally-protected pension because the “Pension Protection Clause protects pension benefit rights in all pension plans as enforceable contractual rights when a public employee becomes a member of a pension system, and it bars the legislature from later unilaterally reducing those rights.”