There's no reason to reward state legislators for wasting time when doing a job they had no choice but to do.
Reluctantly complying with a federal court order, state legislators last week signed off on concealed-carry legislation, but the issue is far from resolved.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who has signaled his unhappiness with the bill, still must decide whether to sign or veto it. If Quinn vetoes the legislation, legislators must deal with a veto override. Finally, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has yet to make a decision about whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the December 2012 appeals court decision striking down Illinois' ban on concealed carry.
Stuck in this morass of indecision and uncertainty, Madigan this week asked the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the state an extra 30 days comply with the court's order to draft legislation allowing concealed carry.
There is no good reason for the court to do so. The six months the court allowed for Illinois to address the issue is more than sufficient time for Quinn and state legislators to meet the court's mandate.
At the same time, it would be advisable for Madigan to seek high court review, if only to allow the Supreme Court to fully address an issue on which different appeals courts have disagreed.
These two issues ought not be confused.
When it struck down Illinois' ban on concealed carry, the 7th Circuit stayed enforcement of its ruling until June 9 to allow legislators time to pass a law containing reasonable regulations. The Legislature has now done so, although Quinn has yet to act.
Madigan is asking for an additional 30 days — to July 9 — before the court's ruling becomes effective to "provide the governor reasonable time to review" the law.
"If signed into law, the (concealed-carry bill) will resolve the plaintiffs' claims in these lawsuits," the attorney general's office stated in its motion for the 30-day delay.
Madigan argued that it's important to allow the 30-day delay because if Quinn does not act by June 9 there will be no law addressing concealed carry and the confusion of who can carry and where would pose a public safety threat.
"The expiration of the stay ... would present a significant hardship, not to the defendants in an individual or official capacity, but to the people and the Constitution of Illinois," the attorney general's office stated.
That sounds like a good reason for Quinn to quickly review the bill and sign it. Regardless of his personal feelings, he essentially has no other choice if he wishes to avoid concealed carry without rules.
Concealed-carry advocates opposed Madigan's motion, saying it is without statutory support and is sought "for dilatory reasons."
They called the original six-month stay "extraordinarily generous" and noted that Quinn and the General Assembly frittered away much of that time.
"Nothing required the legislature to wait until the last possible moment to pass a law," pro-concealed-carry lawyers said in response to Madigan's motion.
That would seem to be the bottom line. Why should state officials be spared the consequences of their own conscious delays? Even assuming the possibility of a no-rules environment starting June 9, Quinn still has sufficient time to review and sign the legislation.
That's not to say there aren't questions to address — the fundamental premise of the appeals court decision needs further exploration. That's why Madigan would better serve the state by asking for a Supreme Court review of the 7th Circuit decision.