Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Editor's Page

Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Editor's Page

Article excerpt

In 2008, Illinois voters will be asked to decide whether a constitutional convention shall be called to reconsider changes to our state constitution, which was written by the delegates to the 1969-1970 constitutional convention and approved by the voters in 1970. In anticipation of this vote, the Illinois State Historical Society Symposium, in December 2004, held a well-attended plenary session on Illinois's Constitutional Convention of 1969-1970. Three delegates to that convention, John Alexander, David Kenney, and Mary Lee Leahy addressed the Symposium, followed by my commentary and contributions from the audience. The interest generated by the Symposium plenary session prompted the Journal editors to request a special edition focusing on the Illinois Constitution. The three Symposium speakers agreed to revise their addresses for this edition.

Despite their shared experience as delegates to the convention, which wrote our present state constitution, the three authors address issues of Illinois constitution-making from distinctly different perspectives. Based on his political science and constitutional expertise, David Kenney argues the need for a new constitutional convention to correct the many problems that have arisen in Illinois's political structure since 1970. John Alexander agrees with David Kenney's critique of the 1970 "new and improved constitution," but his chronicle of lessons learned from his experience with constitution making suggests a cautionary approach to a possible constitutional convention in the future. Mary Lee Leahy, an attorney and member of the Bill of Rights committee at the convention, stresses positive results of the making of the 1970 constitution, focusing on the affirmation of gender equality provisions in the courts. …

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