The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that Rahm Emanuel is to remain on the ballot. I haven’t decided who I might support in the mayoral race, but am pleased with this result:
On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s seven justices overturned the ruling of the appeals panel, though two of the justices issued their own reasoning for allowing Mr. Emanuel to run. In the majority’s opinion, which was written by Justice Robert R. Thomas, a Republican, the justices raised sharp questions about what the appellate court had concluded, suggesting that such issues of residency had essentially been settled in this state for 150 years — until this week.
“Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above,” Justice Thomas wrote, continuing later, “but was instead free to craft its own original standard for determining a candidate’s residency.”
The opinion repeatedly cited a case from 1867, in which an Illinois resident had been appointed as a judge, but had been challenged for not meeting a five-year residency requirement because his family had lived in Tennessee for eight months. That long-ago ruling — in the judge’s favor — focused on his intent (he refused to sell his Illinois law books, for instance), not on his physical location, the justices found. The same principles, the justice wrote, control Mr. Emanuel’s case, “plain and simple.”
Under the appellate court’s decision, the justices said, all sorts of circumstances would now come into question: Where does a member of Congress who spends several days a week in Washington reside legally? What about a state legislator?
“Under the appellate court’s test, considerable doubt would arise as to whether any of these people could meet a residency test that requires one year of ‘actually living’ or “actually residing’ in the municipality,” the majority wrote.
(click to continue reading Court Allows Emanuel on Ballot for Chicago Mayor – NYTimes.com.)
and from the WSJ:
Mr. Emanuel was born in Chicago, owns a house here and represented the city’s North Side for three terms in Congress before he moved to Washington in early 2009 to work for President Obama. He didn’t move back to Chicago until October.
Objectors cited his absence to disqualify him. Mr. Emanuel argued that even though he moved to Washington, he maintained his residency by renting out his house instead of selling it, paying property taxes, keeping his cars registered in Chicago and voting in city elections. He also stored family heirlooms in a locked crawl space in the basement of his home.
Mr. Emanuel further argued that Illinois law provides an exception for candidates who leave the state on business for the U.S. government. The appellate court ruled that a person running for office must be physically present in the city and the government exception applied to voters but not to candidates.
In their opinion, five of the Illinois Supreme Court justices chastised the appellate court for its “mysterious” analysis that it said resulted in “tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard.”
The justices said that under the appellate court’s analysis, congressional representatives living in Washington or state representatives living in Springfield would be constantly subjected to “confusion” with respect to their residency.
Instead, the court upheld the long tradition of using “physical presence” and “intent” when interpreting residency questions in Illinois. It also said that the only way to lose residency once established is through “abandonment” of the physical presence, also a question of intent.
In Mr. Emanuel’s case, the court said, he did not abandon his residency because his intent was clearly to remain in his Chicago house. “The candidate left many personal items in the Hermitage House, including his bed, two televisions, a stereo system, a piano, and over 100 boxes of personal possessions,” the court said.
(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel Can Stay on Ballot, Court Rules – WSJ.com.)
I also object to the residency law on principle. Voters should be allowed to make up their own minds if a carpet bagger would best represent the interests of the city. Chicago should not have this silly paternalistic law on the books. Once in office, or serving as police or whatever, then perhaps1 residency rules could pertain: does seem to make sense that an Alderman should reside in the district the Alderman is representing, at least after the election. Would it really matter if a police officer lived in Gurnee, but worked in the Lakeview district?
But the one year prior to running rule seems a bit bogus, to me.Footnotes:
- maybe [↩]