CHICAGO — The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly kept its Democratic majority, an outcome that likely ensures abortion access continues to be protected in Illinois.
Democrats have held a 4-to-3 majority on the state’s highest court for decades. This midterm election, voters had the rare opportunity to tip the balance with two suburban districts up in the air after the retirement of Justice Bob Thomas in 2020 and Justice Thomas Kilbride’s loss the same year.
The Illinois Supreme Court plays a key role in state politics, potentially ruling on cases involving major issues such as abortion access, gun regulations and civil rights.
Abortion advocates across the state worried access in Illinois could be in jeopardy if Republicans gained control of the high court.
In the newly redrawn 2nd District, which covers northern counties such as Lake, Kane and McHenry, Democrat Elizabeth “Liz” Rochford declared victory over Republican Mark Curran, with Rochford holding 54.4 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts counted, according to unofficial totals.
The other contest was not called as of Wednesday morning, but Rochford’s win ensures a Democratic majority.
Democrat Mary Kay O’Brien inched ahead of Republican Michael Burke in the race for the 3rd District seat. O’Brien received 50.6 percent of the vote with 87 percent of ballots counted, according to unofficial returns. The 3rd District covers the southwest suburbs.
Rochford and O’Brien were endorsed by abortion-access advocacy organizations, including Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, the Illinois National Organization for Women and Personal PAC.
The Illinois Supreme Court is made up of seven seats: three from Cook County’s 1st District and four from districts across the state. Illinois Supreme Court judges serve 10-year terms. Once a judge’s term is up, they can either run against someone else or for retention.
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