Illinois Supreme Court takes up accelerated appeal of ruling that struck down state ban on high-powered guns – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to an accelerated hearing schedule for the state’s appeal of a downstate judge’s ruling that struck down a state ban on certain high-powered semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The high court will hear oral arguments on the matter during its May term, according to an unsigned order issued Tuesday.

The state requested an expedited schedule after Macon County Judge Rodney Forbes ruled Friday that the ban, passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in response to the mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, violates the equal protection and special legislation clauses of the Illinois Constitution.

The scope of the ruling remains in dispute. The attorney for Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins of Decatur, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, contends that under “well-established Illinois authority,” Forbes’ decision means the ban “is void, as if the law never existed, and is unenforceable in its entirety, in all applications.”

Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul, both Democrats, argue that it only applies to Caulkins and the lawsuit’s other named plaintiffs — a local pawnshop, its owner and a group of area gun owners.

The attorney general’s office said the circuit court ruling is not binding on other judges the way an appellate or Supreme Court ruling would be.

Caulkins’ attorney, Jerrold Stocks, on Tuesday declined further comment on the issue.

“Our focus is on the next step of this litigation which will be expedited,” Stocks wrote in an email. “All stakeholders in the subject matter may benefit by the expedited appeal.”

“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case quickly and we are confident this law will be upheld,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Tuesday in a statement.

In addition to placing the matter on its May calendar, the Supreme Court gave the state until March 20 to file its written argument, with a response due by April 13.

Separately, the high court is set to hear oral arguments next week on a law that was set to take effect Jan. 1 that would end cash bail in the state, another landmark measure approved by the Democratic legislature and signed by Pritzker.

The Caulkins case is just one of several ongoing legal challenges to the ban on guns defined in the law as “assault weapons.”

The Supreme Court last month agreed to consolidate three related cases brought by failed Republican attorney general candidate Thomas DeVore but declined to include the Caulkins case.

The state also is defending the law against a group of federal lawsuits brought in the U.S. Southern District of Illinois, and the law has been added to a legal challenge of a recent Naperville ordinance banning the sale of similar weapons in the west suburb.

Signed by Pritzker hours after it was passed by legislators in early January, the state law immediately banned the delivery, sale, import and purchase of guns designated as “assault weapons.”

Starting next year, people who possess guns covered by the ban must either register them with the state or face a misdemeanor for a first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses.

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