Both of Chicago’s major newspapers have editorialized against the Illinois Appellate Court’s order to remove Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot for mayor of Chicago.
With startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning, two appellate judges ignored more than 100 years of legal precedent, invented a new definition of “residency” and ordered Rahm Emanuel off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot.
With the election just four weeks away, the appellate panel voted 2-1 to reverse the decisions of the Chicago Board of Elections and a Circuit Court judge. It’s an adventurous, flawed ruling that has immediate and profound consequences. The case is headed to the Illinois Supreme Court, but the ballots are headed to the printer — without Emanuel’s name. Early voting begins Monday.
In a blistering dissent, Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin accused her colleagues, Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, of “careless disregard for the law,” and harshly criticized them for refusing to ask the Supreme Court for an expedited review.
Lampkin accused the majority of ignoring case law that clearly supported Emanuel’s argument —including a significant case in which Hoffman prevailed.
The truest words issued by an Illinois Appellate Court Justice on Monday were these:
Striking Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot for mayor of Chicago unfairly “disenfranchises … every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him.”
Unfortunately, Justice Bertina E. Lampkin wrote those words in a dissent of the court’s majority opinion, which did indeed rule Emanuel off the ballot.
Emanuel may be far ahead in the race for mayor in every poll.
He may be a true Chicagoan by every common-sense definition.
He may have relocated to Washington only temporarily and only to serve his country, as chief of staff to President Obama.
But if this ruling stands, two appellate court justices, employing a rather narrow reading of state law, will have decided that you, the voters, cannot choose Emanuel to be your next mayor — tough luck, folks.
I’m in no position to comment on the legal aspects of the Appellate Court’s decision. That will be for the Illinois Supreme Court to do, if it elects to do it. I am a bit curious about both papers’ standards for when it’s appropriate for the courts to address candidacy issues and when it’s not. Remember that the incumbent president of the United States was elected to the state senate by virtue of a case he took to the courts over the eligibility of his opponent. Should the courts have acted then or not?
The Illinois Supreme Court has issued a partial stay of the appellate court’s order to have Rahm Emanuel’s name removed from the ballot:
The state Supreme Court today issued a stay of the appellate court order knocking Rahm Emanuel off the ballot and ordered Chicago election officials not to print any ballots without his name.
“It is ordered that the emergency motion by petitioner Rahm Emanuel for stay pending appeal is allowed in part,” the order stated. “The appellate court decision is stayed.
“The Board of Elections is directed that if any ballots are printed while this Court is considering this case, the ballots should include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel as a candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago.”
The high court said it was still considering whether to grant Emanuel’s request that it hear his appeal on an expedited basis.
The petition issued by Emanuel’s lawyers included six grounds for reversal:
The ruling is “squarely inconsistent” with prior high court decisions on residency; the restrictive view of the majority has no precedent; the ruling infringes on the rights of those in Emanuel’s situation to vote; there should only be one legal definition of “resided in” in state and municipal code; the new appellate court residency requirement creates too much uncertainty for candidates going forward; and it strips candidates of the provision that government service does not have a negative impact on residency.
I’m not a lawyer but having read appellate court majority opinion the first two and the fifth have already been dealt with, the third is a matter for the legislature rather than for the courts, the fourth can be resolved by remedies other than by restoring Emanuel to the ballot. Whether Emanuel is one the ballot or off the ballot, the uncertainty will be resolved.