Emanuel’s Back on the Ballot

The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered that Rahm Emanuel’s name be returned to the ballot for the Chicago mayoral primary:

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that Rahm Emanuel can stay on the ballot for mayor of Chicago.

The decision comes without a moment to spare; early voting for the Feb. 22 city election begins Monday, Jan. 31.

You can read the opinion by clicking here.

A cheer went up at Emanuel’s headquarters when the news came out. The candidate was preparing to leave for tonight’s debate with the three other leading contenders. But first he stopped at the Clark and Lake “el” stop to greet voters.

The high court’s decision reverses a 2-1 Illinois Appeals Court decision Monday that ruled Emanuel ineligible on the grounds he did not meet the requirement of being a Chicago resident for a year before the election. Emanuel returned to Chicago last fall to run for mayor after serving as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

The Chicago election board and a Cook County Circuit judge had earlier both ruled Emanuel met the residency requirements. The Supreme Court said the appellate court was in error in overruling them.

“So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear,” the Supreme Court wrote in its ruling today. “This court’s decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Board’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Board’s decision was not clearly erroneous.”

Off-hand I’d guess that Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun aren’t amused. I can only wonder if those who brought the suit to challenge Emanuel’s eligibility will try to advance the case to the U. S. Supreme Court (which I’m guessing would refuse to hear it).

6 comments… add one
  • I’m not following this too closely, but I thought that there was a valid distinction between residency for the purpose of voting and residency for the purpose of running for elective office.

    If residency criteria are diminished then what happens to regulations which call for residency of police officers to live in the districts that employ them?

    Is Rahm really desired by so many Chicago voters and if so, why?

  • michael reynolds Link


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  • PD Shaw Link

    I haven’t read the opinion, but I did read the special concurrence which I think was very nicely stated. The dissenting Appellate Court judge has, according to Cook County Bar assessments, temper problems, i.e. a temper that interferes with her work. The way her language reverberated through the media was unfortunate.

  • Drew Link

    If I understand the key element of the ruling – Emanuel was a resident of Chicago by all accounts. The issue turned on what standards constitute abandoning residency. The appellate court said he did. The Supremes (notably, unanimously) disagreed.

    The color commentary seems to be that the Supremes folded to public pressure. So I guess it takes someone more steeped in the law than I to parse the definition of “abandon” in this context.

    As I understand it, Bert Oleson (sp?) does not intend to elevate this. Its done. I think its safe to say Chicago now has Mayor Emanuel.

  • Drew Link

    This is specifically for PD Shaw –

    I heard quite a bit of questioning of the decision yesterday. The thrust of the argument was that the definition of (establishing) residency was not in question, or the issue. And yes, its been legally settled for many years. The point, they say, is correctly determining if Emanuel abandoned his residency, not whether he originally validly established it. And on that point they say he did, and that the Supreme Court “made new law” by ruling he did not. This, as they say, is above my pay grade.

    Any insight?

  • PD Shaw Link

    Drew, I didn’t read the S. Ct. majority decision.

    The Appellate Court found that the residency requirements were conjunctive, that is that there were two requirements, a traditional residency requirement and an additional requirement for candidates to essentially have lived in the jurisdiction for a year.

    The S. Ct. appears to have basically ruled there is a single residency traditional residency requirement, it’s the place you last lived with the intent to stay indefinitely. The candidate need only say he/she intended to return and it’s up to the other side to prove abandonment.

    The best discussion I’ve seen of both sides of the App. Ct. decision is here:


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