Michael J. Kasper concentrates his litigation practice in trial and appellate litigation in the areas of constitutional law, voting rights, elections and issues related to the legislative process. He has argued cases before the Illinois Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and most of the Illinois appellate districts.
Mr. Kasper's clients have included:
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Kasper was lead counsel for Mayor Emanuel in defending litigation challenging Mr. Emanuel’s residency status in connection with the 2011 mayoral election.
- The Illinois House of Representatives. Mr. Kasper served as outside House Prosecutor in the impeachment of former Governor, Rob Blagojevich.
- President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Kasper represented both Presidents Obama and Clinton in election litigation, and has represented every Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.
- United States Senators Dick Durbin, Barack Obama and the late Paul Simon.
- He has represented the Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, Senate President John J. Cullerton and the Democratic members of the State legislature for many years.
- He has represented the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago in redistricting litigation.
Mr. Kasper is a partner in the firm of Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper & Nottage, P.C., which became of counsel to Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in 1997. Fletcher, O’Brien is one of Illinois’ largest and most diverse governmental relations firm. It represents clients before the Illinois General Assembly, the executive branch of state government, the City of Chicago and other local governments. The firm works to secure passage or defeat of proposed legislation, secure appropriations and funding for projects, monitors pending legislation and helps clients obtain business opportunities through government agencies. Prior to working for the State legislature, Mr. Kasper practiced as a litigator at Winston & Strawn, in Chicago.
Mr. Kasper is a faculty member at Northwestern University School of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and at The John Marshall School of Law, where he teaches courses on Voting Rights & Elections and Legislative Process to second and third year law students.
Mr. Kasper has made several appearances on "Chicago Tonight" on WTTW Channel 11 as an expert commentator in the field of election law, and has made similar appearances on CLTV, Chicago's cable news network. His commentary on election law-related topics has been used by several Illinois radio networks, including WBBM Chicago, National Public Radio and the Illinois Radio Network.
Several other prominent news organizations and publications in the area of politics and elections have recognized Mr. Kasper as a leading practitioner in this area, including:
- “Michael Kasper, an election lawyer with ties to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” Chicago Tribune, January 17, 2012.
- “Emanuel’s heavy involvement with Springfield means that Kasper has moved to a whole new level, which is pretty amazing when you consider how influential he was before Emanuel was elected.” Capital Fax, December 23, 2011 (naming Mr. Kasper the “Best Statehouse Insider”).
- “Kasper has won more cases this year than Perry Mason ever did.” Capital Fax, December 15, 2011.
- “By all account, Mike Kasper is a brilliant guy and an ace lawyer.” WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, October 7, 2011.
- “the mayor’s friend and personal lawyer . . . “ Fox News at Nine, WFLD-TV, September 1, 2011.
- “Michael Kasper, a high powered Democratic Party lawyer” Chicago Tribune, June 17, 2011.'
- “the Democratic Party’s top attorney” Southtown Star, March 6, 2011.
- “one of Chicago’s top election lawyers” Chicago Sun-Times, October 5, 2010.
- “the state Democratic Party’s top elections attorney” Chicago Tribune, July 21, 2010.
- “one of the country’s top election lawyers” Politics: Campaigns & Elections: Illinois Influencers, April 2010.
- “the legendary Michael Kasper, who generally handles election-law cases on behalf of state Democratic Party chieftain Michael Madigan.” Chicago Reader, April 29, 2010.
- “It’s pretty likely that if a respected Democratic candidate is fighting to stay on the ballot, Kasper is the one throwing the punches.” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, “Go-to Election Lawyer has Long Client List,” March 9, 2010.
- “She responded by bringing the big gun, Michael Kasper, the election-law wizard who generally represents candidates favored by state house speaker Michel Madigan.” Chicago Reader, December 31, 2009.
- “Next time we could save people a lot of time and trouble by simply letting Kasper decide who gets on the ballot, since it pretty much works that way anyway.” Chicago Reader, December 31, 2009.
- “the big gun in election law – Michael Kasper . . .,” Chicago Reader, January 15, 2009.
- “Kasper, a specialist in election law who has represented a series of high profile Democrats. . .,” Hyde Park Herald, October 29, 2008.
- “Their lawyer, Democrat Party powerhouse Michael Kasper. . .,” Chicago Sun-Times, October 21, 2008.
- “I suggest we do away with the time, money, and inconvenience of elections altogether. Let’s just give the oath of office to any candidate Kasper represents.” Chicago Reader, December 18, 2007
- “As anyone who know anything about the arcane world of election law will tell you, Michael Kasper is one of Michael Madigan’s favorite weapons. When the house speaker and state Democratic chieftain wants to bounce some nettlesome challenger from the ballot, generally to protect the incumbency of a legislative loyalist, he tends to bring in Kasper, who know the intricacies of the election law like the back of his hand.” Chicago Reader, March 8, 2007.
- “unfortunately for [the candidate], he’s up against one of the masters of the election law game in Kasper, who generally plies his trade knocking off independents challenging legislative allies of house speaker Michael Madigan.” Chicago Reader, January 17, 2007.
- “Michael Kasper, the Democratic Party’s election-law wizard,” Chicago Reader, September 15, 2006
- “Michael Madigan[‘s] ace election-law specialist,” Chicago Reader, September 15, 2006
- “the Democratic party’s top election lawyer.” Southtown Economist, February 12, 2004
- “But witih Madigan’s chief attorney, Mike Kasper, likely on the case, it will be very, very difficult for [the candidate].” Southtown Economist, December 15, 2003
- “his campaign has so much clout it’s been able to use the services of Michael Kasper, an election-law expert who rarely takes on clients unless they’re recommended by [Mayor Richard] Daley or Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan.” Chicago Reader, February 14, 2003
- “a Democratic Party official, election law expert and former counsel to house speaker Michael Madigan,” Chicago Reader, August 2, 2002
- "the top election attorney in the state," The South Suburban Reporter, May, 2002
- "one of the State's top election lawyers, Mike Kasper," Capitol Fax, August 24, 2001
- "he is a top notch election attorney," Belleville News Democrat, September 1, 2001
- "At only 35, Mr. Kasper has established himself as one of the experts in Illinois on campaign and election laws, the legislative process and the machinery of government." Chicago Lawyer, August 2000
Honors & Awards
- Named one of the 100 Most Powerful Chicagoans by Chicago Magazine in March 2013.
- Member of the Leading Lawyers Network, where he was selected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in Election, Political & Campaign Law and Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law
- Named by Law & Politics, in conjunction with Chicago Magazine, to the Illinois Super Lawyers list, making him the only attorney in Illinois given that designation in the field of political law for two consecutive years, 2007 and 2008
- Named by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer magazine as one of the "40 Attorneys Under Age 40 to Watch" in the publications' inaugural profile of young attorneys, August 2000
In 2011, Mr. Kasper successfully defended both the state’s congressional and legislative redistricting plans before three judges panels in federal district court in Chicago.
In 2009, Mr. Kasper was appointed outside Special Prosecutor by the Illinois House of Representatives for the purpose of trying Articles of Impeachment against Governor Rod Blagojevich before the Illinois State Senate. The guilty verdict rendered by the Senate resulted in the Governor’s removal from office.
Mr. Kasper is currently the General Counsel and Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Illinois. He previously served as General Counsel to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and as Parliamentarian for the Illinois House of Representatives.
Mr. Kasper’s representative cases are substantial and span a number of areas, including:
Redistricting and Voting Rights:
- Committee for a Fair and Balance Map, et al., v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 11-CV-5065 (N.D.Ill., 2011). Lead trial counsel successfully defending the state’s 2011 Congressional redistricting plan from challenges alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act and racial and political gerrymandering.
- Rodogno v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 11-CV-4884 (N.D.Ill., 2011). Successfully defended the state’s 2011 state legislative redistricting plan from challenges alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act and racial and political gerrymandering.
- League of Women Voters v. Quinn, 11-CV-5569, 2011 WL 5143044 (N.D.Ill., 2011). Represented the state of Illinois in successfully defending the state’s 2011 legislative redistricting plan in the face of allegations that the redistricting plan was an unconstitutional political gerrymander in violation of the First Amendment.
- Campuzano v. IllinoisState Board of Elections, et al., 200 F.Supp.2d 905 (N.D. Ill. 2002). Lead trial counsel representing the Democratic members of the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission in successfully defending the 2001 legislative redistricting plan before a three-judge panel in federal court.
- Barnett v. U.S. Department of Commerce, et al., No. 02 C 2401 (N.D. Ill. 2002). Lead trial counsel representing the Democratic members of the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission in successfully defending the 2001 legislative redistricting plan before a three-judge panel in federal court.
- Winters v. State Board of Elections. et al., 197 F.Supp.2d 1110 (N.D. Ill. 2001), affirmed 535 U.S. 967, 122 S.Ct. 1433 (2002). Counsel for Secretary of State, Jesse White in litigation, before a three-judge panel in federal court, upholding the Illinois constitutional provision required the Secretary to randomly select the ninth member of the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission. Affirmed by the United States Supreme Court.
- Cole-Randazzo v. Ryan, et al., 762 N.E.2d 485 (Sup. Ct. Ill. 2001). Counsel for a registered voter successfully defending 13 cases in the Illinois Supreme Court raising constitutional challenges to the 2001 legislative redistricting plan.
Ballot Access & Candidate Eligibility:
- Maksym v. Board of Election Commissions of the City of Chicago, ___ N.E.2d ___, 2011 WL 242421 (S.Ct.Ill., 2011). Successfully defended Chicago mayoral candidate, Rahm Emanuel, in litigation before the Chicago Board of Elections, circuit, appellate and Illinois Supreme courts regarding residency challenge to his candidacy.
- Goodman v. Ward, ___ N.E.2d ___, 2011 WL 107106 (S.Ct.Ill, 2011). Represented candidate in litigation before the Illinois Supreme Court regarding constitutional eligibility requirements for judicial candidates.
- Hossfeld v. State Board of Elections, 238 Ill.2d 418, 939 N.E.2d 368 (S.Ct.Ill., 2010). Represented registered voter in challenging ballot eligibility of state legislative candidate under statutory party-switching prohibitions.
- Nader v. Keith, 385 F.3d 729 (C.A. 7, 2004). Represented a registered voter before the U.S. Court of Apeals for the Seventh Circuit (Posner, Wood, Evans) in successfully removing Ralph Nader’s name from the Illinois ballot for the 2004 presidential election, and defending the constitutionality of three Illinois ballot access statues. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court decision in upholding the constitutionality of the statues.
- Boddie v. McDaniel, 2006 WL 2796413 (N.D. Ill.). Successfully defended the constitutionality of Illinois’ statutes establishing ballot access criteria for candidates for the Illinois General Assembly from First Amendment and Equal Protection challenges.
- Nader 2000 Primary Committee v. IllinoisState Board of Elections, 00 C 4401 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Counsel for a registered voter in litigation concerning Ralph Nader's eligibility to appear on the Illinois ballot for the office of President of the United States in the November 2000 election.
- Burny v. Clinton, 96 CO 00037 (Cir. Ct. Cook Cty. 1996). Counsel for President Bill Clinton in successfully defending the validity of his nominating papers for the office of President of the United States in litigation raising constitutional and statutory challenges.
- Anderson v. Graham, No. 77768 (Sup. Ct. Ill. 1994). Counsel for legislative candidate successfully restored to the ballot for the 1994 General Election by the Illinois Supreme Court.
- Hamm v. Township Officers of Tp. of Bremen Electoral Bd., 907 N.E.2d 433 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 2009). Counsel for a registered voter in successful litigation involving operation of township offices concerning hours of operation for acceptance of election documents.
- Rita v. CookCounty Officers Electoral Board, 847 N.E.2d 578 (Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 2006). Counsel representing registered voter successfully removing candidate from ballot for use of a prohibited nickname on nominating petitions.
- Nolan v. CookCounty Officers Electoral Board, 768 N.E.2d 216 (Ill. App. Ct., 1st Dist. 2002). Counsel for a registered voter in litigation concerning the interpretation of newly enacted legislation governing the nomination process.
- Hough v. Will CountyBoard of Elections, 03-02-0743 (Ill. App. Ct. 3rd Dist., 2003). Counsel for registered voters in successfully removing Libertarian candidates from the ballot for improperly combining candidates for legislative offices on a single nominating petition.
- Beaubien v. State Officers Electoral Board, 4-02-0692 (Ill. App. Ct. 4th Dist., 2002). Counsel successfully defending Democratic Candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives whose nomination was challenged by the incumbent representative.
- Carnell v. Madison County Officers Electoral Board, 299 Ill.App.3d 417, 701 N.E.2d 548 (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Dist., 1998). Counsel for registered voter successfully invalidating nomination of candidate for the Illinois General Assembly where nominating body was improperly constituted.
- In re the Impeachment of Rod R. Blagojevich, (Ill. State Senate 2009). Appointed Special Prosecutor by the Illinois House of Representatives for the purposing of trying Articles of Impeachment against the Governor before the State Senate.
- United States v. Blagojevich, 08 CR 1010 (N.D. Ill., 2009). Represented Illinois House of Representatives’ Special Investigative Committee on Impeachment of the Governor seeking the release of government intercepted telephone conversations arising from the criminal complaint against the Governor.
- In re the Impeachment of Justice James D. Heiple, (Ill. House of Representatives, 1997). Counsel to Special Investigative Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives convened to consider the issuance of Articles of Impeachment against former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
First Amendment and Constitutional Law:
- Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich, 469 F.3d 641 (C.A. 7, 2006). Defended the State of Illinois in First Amendment challenge to statute regulating sale and rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors.
- Protect Marriage Illinois v. Orr, 463 F.3d 604, 2006 (C.A. 7, 2006.). Represented a civic organization and group of voters in successfully excluding a constitutional amendment referendum regarding the prohibition of gay marriage from the 2006 Illinois statewide ballot.
- Steigmann v. Democratic Party of Illinois, No. 06-1270 (C.A. 7, 2006). Represented the Democratic Party of Illinois in First Amendment and Section 1983 action involving political hiring practices in the Illinois state government.
- Pangle v. Friends of Lisa Dugan, et al., No. 04 L 147 (Cir. Ct. Kankakee, 2006). Defended political candidate, committee and political party from a $1 million defamation suit arising from allegations contained in campaign literature.
- Trejo v. Village of Itasca, No. 02 C 1193 (N.D. Ill 2004). Represented plaintiff in Section 1983 litigation involving alleged civil rights violations.
- Temple v. IllinoisState Board of Elections, No. 04 CH 13939 (Cir. Ct. Cook Cty. 2004). Represented an incumbent state legislator and several voters in action successfully challenging the constitutionality of statute providing that a candidate’s name would not appear on the ballot if the candidate’s committee owed an administrative penalty for late financial disclosure reports.
- Tully v. Orr, et al., No. 01 CH 00959 (Cir. Ct. Cook Cty. 2001). Counsel for the Democratic Party of Illinois in action successfully obtaining a Court order to implement error detection systems in the punch card voting systems used in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
- Granberg v. Didrickson, et al., 665 N.E.2d 398 (Ill. App. Ct., 1st Dist. 1996). Counsel for a group of Illinois Legislators in a taxpayers' suit in the Illinois Appellate Court successfully enjoining unlawful appropriations from the Illinois Road Fund.
- Graham v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, 695 N.E.2d 360 (Ill. 1998). Counsel for amici curiae Michael J. Madigan and Emil Jones, Jr. in litigation in the Illinois Supreme Court concerning the expenditure of funds by the Toll Highway Authority.
- Johnson v. Edgar, 176 Ill.2d 499, 680 N.E.2d 1372 (Ill. 1997). Counsel for amici curiae Michael J. Madigan and Emil Jones, Jr. in successfully challenging legislation passed in violation of the Single Subject Clause of the Illinois Constitution in the Illinois Supreme Court.
- “It’s My Party and I’ll Run If I Want To: Party Switching and Candidate Eligibility in Light of Hossfeld v. State Board of Elections,” 35 Southern Illinois University Law Journal, p. 249, Winter 2011.
- “Using Article IV of the Illinois Constitution to Attack Legislation Passed by the General Assembly,” 40 Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, No. 4, p. 847, Summer 2009.
- “Magic Words and Millionaires: The Supreme Court’s Assault on Campaign Funding,” 42 The John Marshall Law Review, No. 1, p. 1, Fall 2008.
- “Where are Your Papers? Photo Identification as a Prerequisite to Voting,” 3 Florida A&M University Law Review, No. 1, p. 1, Spring 2008.
- “The Almost Rise and Not Quite Fall the Political Gerrymander,” 27 Northern IllinoisUniversity Law Review, No. 3, p. 409, 2007.
- "Federal Campaign Finance and Disclosure," and "Political Parties," Practice Handbook on Election Law, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2002 and 2007 editions.
- "Federal Campaign Finance and Disclosure," and "Political Parties," Practice Handbook on Election Law, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2002.
- “Using the Single-Subject Rule to Invalidate Legislation: A Better Approach,” Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 87, No.3, March 1999.
- "Structure, Function and Legal Status of Political Parties," Practice Handbook on Election Law, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 1998, 1995 and 1991.
- Rules of the Illinois House of Representatives, Office of the Clerk, Illinois House of Representatives, 1997 - 90th, 91st & 92nd General Assemblies.
- "How to Become a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention," Illinois Issues, Sangamon State/University of Illinois Publishers, December 1991.