Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman announced Monday that she will retire in July after serving on the state's high court for more than two decades.
Garman, a Republican from Danville, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2001 representing the Fourth District, which covers much of Central Illinois. She was elected in 2002 and retained in 2012. She would have faced another retention election in November.
"There is no doubt that I have had the role of a lifetime, a privilege to serve the people of the state of Illinois as a member of the court system at every level," Garman said in a statement released by the court. "But this is the right time for me to step back from my public role and allow someone else to assume this all-important position."
Garman, 78, a native of suburban Oswego, graduated from the University of Illinois and received her law degree from the University of Iowa.
She was an assistant state's attorney in Vermillion County before being appointed to the bench in 1974 as an associate judge. In 1986, she was elected circuit judge and was later appointed presiding judge for Vermillion County. In 1996, she was elected to the appellate court.
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From 2013 to 2016, she served as Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Garman, currently the longest-serving judge in Illinois, said she faced many uphill battles during her career, including sexism, once being told by a law professor that she should give up her seat to "a more deserving male candidate, who would have a family to support.”
"Today, I am proud that these opinions are a relic of the past," she said, pointing to the fact that 40% of lawyers in Illinois are now woman.
Since Garman's retirement will come after the June 28 primary, members of the Illinois Supreme Court will appoint a replacement who will serve until the vacancy is filled in the 2024 election cycle, confirmed Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Since state law requires a replacement to be a member of the same political party, Garman's seat will be filled by a Republican. Candidates interested in a full 10-year term will run in primary elections to be held in 2024.
An added wrinkle to Garman's retirement is the change in Supreme Court district lines. State lawmakers successfully redistricted the court's five districts for the first time since the 1960s last year, an attempt by the legislative Democrats to keep the party's narrow 4-3 majority on the court while accounting for significant population disparities that developed over the years.
As part of that, Garman's Vermillion County home was drawn out of the new Fourth District. The district still includes Central Illinois population centers like Bloomington-Normal and Springfield, but now picks up Peoria, the Quad Cities, Rockford and wider swaths of western Illinois as well.
How Illinois politicians reacted to the potential fall of Roe v. Wade
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Jesse Sullivan, GOP governor candidate
When we heard the incredible news tonight we dropped to our knees and said a prayer as a family in gratitude for all the lives that will be saved. And then we said the pledge of allegiance. The flag looks different after this ruling - it shines even brighter. 🙏🏻🇺🇸— Jesse Sullivan (@JesseSullivanIL) May 3, 2022
Anne Caprara, Pritzker's chief of staff
Stephen Stewart, downstate director, Illinois House Republican Majority
Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois Secretary of State candidate
Justice Alito has declared war on reproductive rights.— Alexi Giannoulias (@Giannoulias) May 3, 2022
The draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade allows for the criminalization of abortion-even in the case of rape and incest. Massive setback for reproductive rights. Alito is “egregiously wrong” and Congress must act NOW. https://t.co/JDNEy0RrVK
Regan Deering, 13th Congressional District candidate
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago
Jerry Evans, 11th Congressional District candidate
Christian Mitchell, Illinois deputy governor
Offensive and insane:— Christian Mitchell (@cljmitchell) May 3, 2022
“Some such supporters have been motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population,” Alito writes “It is beyond dispute that Roe has had that demographic effect. A highly disproportionate percentage of aborted fetuses are black.” https://t.co/WHocDMO7vJ
Litesa Wallace, 17th Congressional District candidate
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville
The Senate can make the reported SCOTUS decision moot by passing the House-passed Women’s Health Protection Act immediately.— Congressman Bill Foster (@RepBillFoster) May 3, 2022
State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield
If the draft opinion is accurate and the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe—and with it, nearly 50 years of established precedent—millions of women across America will be denied their rights and America will be less free. We are staring down an emergency.🧵— Rep. Brad Schneider (@RepSchneider) May 3, 2022
U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland
Our Justices need your prayers to stand up to the radical abortion industry and Defend Life!— Mary Miller (@Miller_Congress) May 3, 2022
The unborn have no voice to speak for themselves, we march for them and tonight we must pray for them!
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois
Let’s be clear: this is not final and the far-right Supreme Court majority will not have the last word.— Tammy Duckworth (@TammyDuckworth) May 3, 2022
The American people will. Tonight, it’s important we get loud, organize and demand action from the Senate.
Retweet if you agree it’s time to protect Roe v. Wade NOW. https://t.co/TweuJXrRhI
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
What we're seeing tonight on Roe v. Wade is a horrendous attack on our fundamental right to choose, and we will fight against it with everything we've got. You have my word: I will do everything I can to guarantee your right to an abortion.— Lori Lightfoot (@LoriLightfoot) May 3, 2022
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson
The leaked SCOTUS opinion on Roe v Wade will set women’s rights back generations. Black women & those living in rural areas will be worst impacted.— Robin Kelly (@RepRobinKelly) May 3, 2022
We must codify the right to safe abortions.
U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove
Put pro-choice majorities in the House and Senate this November and we fix this, permanently.— Sean Casten (@SeanCasten) May 3, 2022
Scream tonight. Cry tonight. Get angry tonight.
And tomorrow, get to work.
Nikki Budzinski, 13th Congressional District candidate
House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville
State Sen. Darren Bailey, GOP governor candidate
1/3 Cindy and I continue to pray for life and our nation. I am proudly pro-life and endorsed by every major pro-life group in the state. I have stated from the beginning that I would help and promote policies and groups that help empower women with real options and save lives. pic.twitter.com/xMvilIQzqn— Darren Bailey for Governor (@DarrenBaileyIL) May 3, 2022
Gary Rabine, GOP governor candidate
Although it is just a draft opinion, it appears that the— Gary Rabine (@GaryRabine) May 3, 2022
United States Supreme Court is about to reverse Roe V. Wade. which has allowed for the murder of thousands of unborn children.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois
"Women in America may soon live in a country where they have fewer rights than their parents."— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) May 4, 2022
WATCH Chair @SenatorDurbin speak on the Senate floor about what a post-Roe America could look like—and how the Republican party led us here. pic.twitter.com/66MkBn8QJZ
Contact Brenden Moore at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @brendenmoore13