“No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts…shall be passed” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article I—Ex Post Facto Laws and Impairing Contracts, Section 16/The Constitution of the United States, Article 1—Limitations on Powers of States, Section 10).
We cannot mistake the meaning of words such as “shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired” because we understand and speak the English language. If words in our State Constitution are to refer or mean anything, they must be commonly understood and accepted as they have been for decades. Moreover, if words are to refer to anything, they must also be understood through their use, role, employment and past agreements.
If there is anything else we might examine regarding the Pension Protection Clause and its relationship to a reality that reveals repeated attempts by the wealthy elite, their politicians and the media to amend constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefit rights, perhaps we should also dispute these relentless attacks on the very intelligibility of the English language.
As stated, the foundation of public employees’ and retirees’ rights is the State and U.S. Constitutions that directly support any claims against them. State contracts are also protected by the federal government. Understandably, the 5th and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution protect due process of law. In Illinois, the legal basis for protection of past-and-future public pension rights are established in both constitutions.