Supreme Court Summaries

Opinion filed July 11, 2011



Wirtz v. Quinn, 2011 IL 111903

Appellate citation: 407 Ill. App. 3d 776.


      JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Theis concur in the judgment and opinion.


      On July 13, 2009, a legislative capital projects plan with numerous provisions created the Video Gaming Act and was signed into law by Governor Patrick Quinn. It consists of three substantive bills and one appropriation bill. Under the main bill, Public Act 96–34, video gaming is allowed at certain licensed establishments and a tax is imposed thereon. The lottery law is amended. The sales tax rate is increased on candy, soft drinks, grooming and hygiene products, manufacturers and distributors of beer, wine and spirits face higher taxes, and motor vehicle fees are increased. Although the appropriation authority at issue has now lapsed, other provisions continue to be employed by the General Assembly in current budget legislation.

      Within weeks of the effective date of this legislation, W. Rockwell Wirtz and Wirtz Beverage Illinois, LLC, filed a taxpayer action, on August 25, 2009, seeking to restrain and enjoin the disbursement of public funds under the new enactment. Violation of the single subject clause of the Illinois Constitution was alleged, as well as other constitutional defects. The circuit court of Cook County, however, denied the plaintiffs leave to file their complaint and refused to allow the matter to go forward. The plaintiffs appealed and obtained a reversal from the appellate court on January 26, 2011. An appeal from this decision was allowed by the Illinois Supreme Court. In this decision, the supreme court upheld the legislation against the various challenges made and found it valid.

      The appellate court, in voiding the legislation, found that the provisions of Public Act 96–34 were not all related to the single subject of “revenue” contained in the official title and that the remaining three public acts (Nos. 96–35, 96–37 and 96–38) were invalid based on language making them contingent on Public Act 96–34. However, the supreme court held that it was not limited to the title in applying the single subject rule and evaluated the legislation as a “capital projects” plan, which it found to be a legitimate single subject. The supreme court held that all the various provisions have a natural and logical connection to that subject, establishing revenue sources to be deposited in the Capital Projects Fund. Those provisions that do not directly raise revenue implement those which do and, thus, are related to the overall subject. Other constitutional challenges were also rejected.

      Rather than remand to the appellate court, the supreme court addressed all of the claims raised in the plaintiffs’ complaint, even those not addressed by the appellate court. The circuit court judgment was affirmed.