Over four days in mid-January, no fewer than ten entities – public entities, charitable institutions and individuals – filed motions for leave to file amicus briefs in support of the State’s defense of the public pension reform statute. All told, the amici amounted to 265 pages of briefing, on top of the State’s own fifty page brief – in a case in which the State had successfully moved for an accelerated schedule leading to a March oral argument:
On January 22, 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court denied all ten motions for leave to file.
But in fact, the Court’s order was not a surprise. We’ll address the matter from a historical perspective in more detail over at the Illinois Supreme Court Review in a few weeks, but there is no established tradition of amicus briefs on the Court’s civil docket. As a general matter, the Court averages around one amicus brief per civil case over the course of a year. Five days after the last of the amici filed, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a twenty-eight day extension of time, pointing out that they were now potentially saddled with the task of responding to 315 pages of merits and amici briefing. Had the extension been granted, the plaintiffs’ brief would have been due March 16, and oral argument would certainly have been postponed till May at the earliest. The plaintiffs’ motion was opposed by the State.
The day after the State filed its opposition, the Court solved the program by denying all of the motions for leave to file the amicus briefs. Since the plaintiffs’ request for extension was based on the volume of amicus briefing, the Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion as moot.
We’ll consider the State’s opening brief here tomorrow. The plaintiffs’ opening brief is due February 16.