Similarly, building comparable political consensus in Illinois is important. State supreme
court justices may be more influenced by current political trends than their federal
counterparts.275 Unlike federal judges, state supreme court justices in many states, including
Illinois, are popularly-elected and do not serve life terms (in Illinois, they serve ten year terms).276
State supreme courts also generally play a greater role in setting public policy than federal
courts.277 Furthermore, both Edgar and Lewis E. featured a limited number of district plaintiffs;
increasing popular support may aid in including a larger, more diverse body of district plaintiffs
in future litigation, thereby increasing the political pressure on the court to hear the case on the
Should a future challenge prove successful, building political consensus may also
encourage state lawmakers to work quickly towards a reformed funding system.279 In Edgar and
Lewis E., as well as Rose in Kentucky, plaintiffs have merely sought a declaration that the current
funding system is unconstitutional.280 Following the court’s ruling, the onus for fashioning a new
funding system shifts to the state legislature, without an explicit framework for a new funding
system.281 As past cases demonstrate, state legislatures are often slow to act on education finance
reform.282 Public demand for reforms in school funding may thus act as a spur to legislative
inertia and partisan gridlock.283
There is evidence to suggest that a broad base of political support for funding reform
could be built in Illinois.284 The vast majority of Illinois public schools are either “foundational”
or “alternative” grant schools, meaning that most schools should have some interest is receiving
greater funding from the state.285 Moreover, the failed attempt at reforming Article X of the
Illinois State Constitution in 1992 received bi-partisan support from urban Democrats and rural
275 See Swenson, supra note 98, at 1152-54 (finding that elected supreme court justices were somewhat more likely to strike-down
school funding systems). It should be noted, however, that Swenson’s article found that, because even appointed justices often face
retention elections, the relationship between the method of judicial appointment in a state supreme court and the justices’ likelihood of
striking-down a state finance system is not entirely clear. Id.
276 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 2, cl. 2 (granting the President the power to appoint “judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of
the United States,” which includes judges in lower federal courts); U.S. CONST. art. III, § 1 (granting federal judges lifetime tenure);
ILL. CONST. art. VI., § 10, 12(a); see also GA. CONST., art. VI, § 7, ¶ 1 (providing for the election of Georgia state supreme court
judges); MINN. CONST., art. VI, § 7 (providing for the election of Minnesota state supreme court judges); TEX. CONST., art. V, § 2(c)
(providing for the election of Texas state supreme court judges); WASH. CONST., art. IV, § 3 (providing for the election of Washington
state supreme court judges); WIS. CONST., art. VII, § 4 (providing for the election of Wisconsin state supreme court judges).
277 See supra note 164 and accompanying text.
278 The Edgar suit was brought by roughly thirty-seven districts (and additional individuals), and in Lewis E. the local district was a
defendant. Comm. for Educ. Rights v. Edgar, 672 N.E.2d 1178, 1180 (Ill. 1996); Lewis E. v. Spagnolo, 710 N.E.2d 798, 800 (Ill.
1999). In contrast, the body of plaintiffs in Rose initially included a coalition of sixty-six districts, and was later joined by districts
from five additional counties. Rose v. Council for Better Educ., 790 S. W.2d 186, 190 (Ky. 1989).
279 See Orfield, supra note 255, at 120-25 (noting the positive influence Rose and its surrounding reform advocacy efforts had on
280 See Edgar, 672 N.E.2d at 1180; Lewis E., 710 N.E.2d at 801-02; Rose, 790 S. W.2d at 190.
281 See, e.g., Litigation—Kentucky, supra note 271 (noting that the Kentucky legislature was ultimately responsible for fashioning
school funding reforms with minimal guidance from the Kentucky Supreme Court).
282 See supra Part III-C (noting that legislative reform following judicial invalidation of a school funding system can often take several
283 See generally Hunter, supra note 272, at 499-516 (discussing reform in Kentucky following Rose); Orfield, supra note 255, at 120-
25 (arguing that advocacy efforts helped spur the Kentucky state legislature to enact meaningful reform following Rose).
284 See supra Part III-B (noting that there was bipartisan support for the failed 1992 amendment to Article X); CTR. FOR TAX &
BUDGET ACCOUNTABILITY, supra note 11 (discussing how both urban and downstate school districts have a strong interest in
education funding reform, suggesting that both Chicago-area Democrats and downstate Republicans should be able to reach consensus
on the issue).
285 In 2011, approximately 73.1% of Illinois’ public school children were served by foundation level districts, 21.9% of students
attended alternate formula districts, and just 5.0% of students attended flat grant districts. GENERAL STATE AID, supra note 83; see
also CTR. FOR TAX & BUDGET ACCOUNTABILITY, supra note 11, at 6 (providing a similar breakdown of how many students attend
each type of district).