Judicial Qualifications, Terms, and Titles

A judge at any level must be a citizen of the United States, an attorney licensed to practice in Illinois, and a resident of the district or circuit to which the judge is appointed or elected.

Partisan elections, set by the political parties, elect an Illinois Supreme Court justice to a ten-year term. At the expiration of that term, the Illinois Supreme Court justice must stand for a retention election under specific rules requiring the justice to run uncontested. However, to remain on the court, the justice must receive 60% of the vote in favor of retention.

If a justice fails to receive the 60% vote, the justice cannot remain on the Illinois Supreme Court, but may be appointed as an associate by the Illinois Supreme Court. Upon a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court appoints an interim justice who must then stand in the next general election and primary election. Illinois Supreme Court justices are selected in partisan, i.e. party designated, elections after a partisan nomination process. One supreme court justice is elected from one of the four judicial districts, three justices are elected from District 1, Cook County. A decision of the supreme court requires a concurrence of four justices.

The Illinois Supreme Court justices select their own chief justice for a three-year term. The Court is the general administrative head of the entire court system, with the Office of the Chief Justice taking primary responsibility for judicial administration. The Illinois Supreme Court hears cases where there is a challenge under the state or federal constitutions, and the court may hear, at its discretion, appeals from the appellate court. The Supreme Court also hears some appeals from the lower courts, and has original jurisdiction in cases involving revenue, mandamus, prohibition and habeas corpus.