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State of Illinois

History of Reform Efforts: Illinois

Formal Changes Since Inception

1818
Judges elected for life by the general assembly.

1848
Supreme court justices elected by the people to nine-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1870
New constitution provided for the creation of an appellate court, to be composed of circuit court judges appointed by the supreme court. Appellate courts were first established in 1877.

1964
Voters ratified a new judicial article in 1962, to take effect in 1964. The amendment established a unified court system. All judges were elected by the people in partisan contests. Once elected, judges would run in retention elections for subsequent terms. Judges of the supreme court and appellate court were elected to ten-year terms; judges of the circuit court were elected to six-year terms.

1992
Legislature established the subcircuit system in Cook County to promote greater diversity on the bench.

2009
SB 1466 imposed limits on judicial campaign contributions of $125,000 for candidates in the first judicial district and $75,000 for candidates in all other districts.