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Major hurdle for the IL Supreme Court justice who upheld the IL gun ban

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

In case you missed it, the IL Supreme Court overruled the Macon County judge and upheld the IL Gun ban (PICA, Protect Illinois Communities Act). Justice Rochford authored the 4-3 ruling.

While she was campaigning for the position (we will ignore all prior stuff like the donations from the defendants of the case), she was visibly working with a big supporter of the ban, Moms Demand Action. She was also endorsed by them. This is all prior to PICA being introduced.

As you can see, she's not shy about her support for them (or at least to be seen with them and get their help). Defendant Pritzker, who she ruled in favor of, even credits Everytown (Moms Demand Action) for getting this law passed.

She even mentioned on how she got an endorsement from GPAC and linked it on a Facebook post.

Click the link and it tells you what she supported to get the endorsement:

And now, it gets even more wild.....

Rochford was sworn in to the IL Supreme Court on 12/5/22

Two days later on 12/7/22, as a sitting IL Supreme Court Justice, it is now confirmed that she attended and participated in some way at a Moms Demand Action event that was organized to promote PICA. The event appears to be a lobbying/outreach one to gain support for the introduced bill at the time.

Searching "Rochford Moms Demand Action" on Facebook/posts when you are logged in gets you to these

Also among the pics included on that post, we have an outline of their action plan to get the bill passed. According to Elliot's post, this action plan was the point of the meeting.

Elliot is a politician btw, not just some rando.

Oh, and here he is on the house floor with Pritzker (the lead defendant in the case Rochford ruled in his favor for) when the bill was sent to his (Pritzker's) desk

Also, the Vernon Hills/Buffalo Grove chapter of Moms Demand Action's Facebook group use a picture from that event as their banner.

Another FB post regarding the event, this one by IL State Senator Mary Edly-Allen. She talks about how now elected officials, like Rochford, implicates the future of Moms Demand Action's goals and how these elected officials advance the (MDA's) "movement". This further implicates that the meeting was polticial in nature on at least 2 different levels (advance legislation and discuss advancing MDA's organizational goals).

The day of the ruling, Moms Demand Action celebrated Rochford upholding the law, but oddly did not mention her in their press release. Be it noted too that this ruling occurred, conveniently, when Moms Demand Action/Everytown were holding a mass event in Chicago to promote their org and train their members from around the country.

CHICAGO – Today, in a groundbreaking victory for gun safety in the courts, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled to uphold the state’s prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. 

Today’s news comes as more than 2,000 grassroots volunteers, students and survivors of gun violence gather in Chicago for Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s Gun Sense University, a three-day annual training conference that brings together leaders of the gun violence prevention movement from all 50 states and Washington D.C. to share best practices, participate in training sessions about effective organizing, find community among advocates and prepare for crucial work heading into 2024. 

The case before the Illinois Supreme Court focused on the constitutionality, under the Illinois state constitution, of two provisions of the newly-enacted Protect Illinois Communities Act, provisions to restrict the sale, purchase, manufacture, and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The law was signed just months following the deadly mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park where a shooter, wielding an assault weapon and large-capacity magazines, killed 7 people and injured 48 more. 

As you can see, the conflicts of interest of Rochford's position and attending that event are blatant. This ruling is now ripe for federal court on a Caperton V Massey SCOTUS opinion challenge because she refused to recuse herself from the case when a motion was filed to do so. What is Caperton V Massey?

On June 8, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Caperton v. Massey.  In a 5–4 opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the court concluded that, given the “serious risk of actual bias,” the Due Process Clause required the recusal of Judge Brent Benjamin.  Case background can be found below the list of amicus briefs on the merits.   
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority:
“We conclude that there is a serious risk of actual bias – based on objective and reasonable perceptions – when a person with a personal stake in a particular case had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing the judge on the case by raising funds or directing the judge’s election campaign when the case was pending or imminent.  The inquiry centers on the contribution’s relative size in comparison to the total amount of money contributed to the campaign, the total amount spent in the election, and the apparent effect such contribution had on the outcome of the election.” 
“Justice Benjamin did undertake an extensive search for actual bias.  But, as we have indicated, that is just one step in the judicial process; objective standards may also require recusal whether or not actual bias exists or can be proved…The failure to consider objective standards requiring recusal is not consistent with the imperatives of due process.”
“Our decision today addresses an extraordinary situation where the Constitution requires recusal.”

As you see, we now have a situation where the mere appearance of bias is enough to move this state level case (Caulkins V Pritzker) to the federal courts/SCOTUS. It is not known yet if Caulking attorney Jerry Stocks will do this, but Caulkins did imply it's on the table. Her refusal to recuse from the case is what saved the law. If she had recused, it would have been 3-3 and the lower court ruling would have stood. Further, IL Judges/Justices must abide by state judicial canons otherwise they can be disciplined or even removed. 3 of the first 3 canons were likely violated by Justice Rochford showing her support for the gun ban at a Moms Demand Action event about it.




What did the Caperton SCOTUS ruling say about abiding by state level judicial canons?

And there you go.

Also, be it noted that the state Judicial Inquiry Board refused to pursue any claims based on conflicts of interest (prior to these new developments post-being seated) and that in her refusal to recuse from the case ruling, she said this:

Looks like the accusations of her perceived bias weren't "sinister" after all, and appearing at an event in support of the law with the activists charged with being the "boots on the ground" to get support for it just two days after being sworn in doesn't give the appearance of support/committing, then I don't know what does.


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