Trib and Sun-Times Want Rahm (Updated)

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.

Chicago Tribune

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.

Chicago Sun-Times

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.

9 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    My left eye twitches uncontrollably when I read the complaint that Lincoln couldn’t have immediately left the White House and ran to be the alderman in a town with 10,000 people. Why would he want to do that?

  • Why would he want to do that?

    My guess is that he would have wanted to get a paying job . Presidents didn’t receive pensions in Lincoln’s time.

  • PD Shaw Link

    He was still a partner in a law firm with Herndon, or at least Herndon didn’t take his name off of the sign because it was too good for business. More likely he would have ended up in Chicago at a law firm there since his wife had soured on Springfield. I just don’t think it would ever have occurred to him to follow-up the Presidency by running for local office.

  • PD Shaw Link

    On the grounds, I think the first two are probably the only one’s that really matter to the S. Ct.

    On the rest, I strongly dislike the notion that candidates have any rights that exceed those identified in the statute. Having gone through the Blago and Burris problems, I think it’s important to keep a distinction between the rights of voters and the obligations of candidates and politicians. And I don’t believe Emanuel is similarly situated with a lot of candidates. I think there was a degree of either hubris or stupidity for him not to keep an occupied residence even if his legal interpretation prevails.

  • I think that Emanuel expected to be anointed mayor rather than having to run for the office, much as happened with his seat in Congress. Daley’s failure to endorse him must have been quite a shock.

  • Drew Link

    “Striking Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot for mayor of Chicago unfairly “disenfranchises … every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him.” ”

    It seems to me this is garbage. Are voters “disenfranchised” if the law prohibits convicted ax murderers from running? Rather than complaining about the narrowness of the decision, the correctness of the “residency” determination should be the prevailing issue.

    Otherwise, it seems to me the papers are advocating something akin to the substance of voting for prom queen.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The S.Ct. has accepted the appeal, it’s going to decide based upon the briefs already filed in the Appellate Court and without oral argument. So this would take less than the 20 days the Appellate Court needed.

    However, the S. Ct. is not in session and the justices are spread out all over the state. I wonder how that will effect the process.

  • I don’t live in or near Chicago, or even near Illinois, so the main concern I have with this whole imbroglio is it reflects how we have a professional political class in the United States. I don’t like that.

    As some have obliquely (or not so indirectly) referenced, there seems to be an attitude of entitlement that grows in many members of that professional political class that I find very anti-democracy.

  • Sad thing is, Rahm is probably the least corrupt and least committed communist candidate they’ve got. And maybe he’s learned something from watching O’bama make such a bollocks of everything.

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