The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously picked a Democratic appellate judge as an interim replacement for longtime Justice Tom Kilbride, who conceded he had failed to win enough votes to keep his seat.
Republicans immediately slammed the selection of 74-year-old Robert Carter as interim justice. They had envisioned the six remaining justices ― three from each party ― would deadlock on a temporary Kilbride replacement, keeping the court evenly balanced until the next election in 2022, a race Republicans hope to win without a presidential race on the ballot.
“If they couldn't have appointed a Republican, they should not have appointed anyone,” said James Nowlan, who chaired a political committee that opposed Kilbride's retention.
Last week, Kilbride lost a retention effort when he only received 56% of voters support, according to the Chicago Tribune. He needed 60% to approve his retention and give him a rare third 10-year term.
The stakes were unusually high in the retention campaign because Republicans viewed the Kilbride seat as their best chance to eventually knock Democrats out of a 4-3 majority on the state’s high court.
Kilbride will leave the bench in December. An election will take place December 2022 in the 3rd Judicial District to decide Kilbride’s replacement.
Carter said in a statement he was humbled by the appointment but plans to retire after the two-year appointment and will not seek to run for the seat in 2022.