Chicago red-light camera case could affect the suburbs

  • Attorneys are arguing that a state law allowing red-light cameras in the suburbs is unconstitutional.

      Attorneys are arguing that a state law allowing red-light cameras in the suburbs is unconstitutional. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Updated 7/22/2015 6:39 PM

Attorneys have renewed their fight against Chicago's red-light camera program in a case that also could decide the future of the cameras in the suburbs.

The pitch to the courts that the cameras should be turned off statewide is a secondary argument in a case that has begun in Cook County court.


Last year, the Illinois Supreme Court declined a full ruling on Chicago's camera law because two justices recused themselves from the case and the other five were split. So the law stayed in place.

Attorney Patrick Keating said that means a similar case can go forward again with new plaintiffs, and a hearing is set for next week in Chicago.

Keating argues that because the Illinois law allows red-light cameras in suburban counties but not in dozens of downstate counties, it's unfair and violates the state constitution.

"We believe the state red-light camera law sets a dangerous precedent in allowing the legislature to set different laws for urban and rural areas," Keating said.

In court documents, Chicago attorneys argue Keating shouldn't have another shot at trying what they argue is the same case. And they argue a law can affect some parts of the state and not others in certain cases.

The counties and towns allowed to have cameras "are distinguished from all others in Illinois by their density and proximity to major urban centers," they argue. In other words, there's more traffic, so more traffic safety measures are justified, they say.

Keating wants the Chicago law tossed out, and the courts could address it without touching the statewide law that allows for the cameras in the suburbs.

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