Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was credited by those working to abolish the death penalty in Illinois with playing a crucial role.
After weeks of behind-scenes debate, in which the anti-death penalty forces felt they were extremely close in the House but still didn't have that last one or two votes to get a majority, Madigan on Jan. 6 stepped in and got the job done. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, and the final vote was 60-54. And that was on the second try -- the first effort that day lost by a single vote but a parliamentary maneuver to allow another vote was successful.
The state Senate subsequently approved the measure 32-25 on Jan. 11.
Illinois House Speaker MIke Madigan
The law, which was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on March 9, goes into effect Friday. It will make Illinois the 16th state to abolish capital punishment.
But Madigan wasn't always against the death penalty. A look back at the bill that passed on March 10, 1977, to reinstate capital punishment in Illinois shows Madigan was one of the 119 "yeas" that passed the bill, to 47 "nays" and two "present." The Illinois vote followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 35 years ago this week that permitted states to reinstate the death penalty.
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