Court: Rahm Emanuel Can't Run For Mayor, Not Chicago Resident

01/24/2011 01:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

An Illinois court on Monday threw Rahm Emanuel's name off the Chicago mayoral ballot, possibly ending the former White House chief of staff's bid to lead his hometown.

By a 2-to-1 vote, an appellate panel overturned two previous decisions and ruled that Emanuel is not eligible to run because he moved to Washington D.C. for two years.

"We conclude that the candidate neither meets the municipal code's requirement that he have 'resided' in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement," said the majority opinion by justices Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall. (Read the court decision here.)

The decision came less than a month before the Feb. 22 election, and the chairman of the Chicago board of election commissioners said he will do as he was told: "We're going to press with one less candidate for mayor," Langdon D. Neal said in a statement.

Emanuel has been considered the front-runner in the race, having far outraised his opponents.

An attorney who argued on Emanuel's behalf told the Chicago Sun-Times that they will immediately appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. Emanuel himself sounded confident during a Monday afternoon press conference.

"I have no doubt that we will, in the end, prevail at this effort," Emanuel told reporters at Chicago's Berghoff restaurant. "As my father always used to say, 'Nothing is ever easy in life.' Nothing is ever easy. This is just one turn in the road."

Emanuel's campaign can take some measure of hope from the blistering dissent by the appellate panel's third member, Justice Bertina Lampkin. Lampkin wrote that the majority opinion was based on legalistic distinctions she termed "indefensible," "ill-reasoned and
unfair" and "completely erroneous."

Emanuel clearly did not give up his Chicago residency when he relocated temporarily to Washington, Lampkin insisted. "[T]he majority promulgates a new and undefined standard for determining candidate residency requirements despite the plethora of clear, relevant and
well-established precedent that has been used by our circuit courts and election boards for decades," she wrote. "It is patently clear that the majority fails to even attempt to define its newly discovered standard because it is a figment of the majority's imagination."

Lampkin wrote that, at most, the court should have sent the case back to the city's election board for a rehearing. "Merely saying the candidate 'unquestionably does not satisfy' its newly-minted standard, when the ink of its creation has barely dried on the paper, cannot be a proper substitution for providing a hearing," she wrote.

And Lampkin accused the majority of a "careless disregard for the law shortly before an election for the office of mayor in a major city," concluding: "The majority's decision disenfranchises not just this particular candidate, but every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him."

The decision came in a case brought by two voters who objected to Emanuel's candidacy because he rented out his Chicago home and moved his family to Washington. "If the house had not been abandoned by the whole family ... we wouldn't be here today," attorney Burt Odelson told the panel of judges, all three of them Democrats.

Odelson until now has had little luck trying to keep Emanuel off the ballot. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge had both ruled in favor of Emanuel, a former congressman, saying he had not abandoned his Chicago residency.

Emanuel is one of several candidates vying to replace Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who did not seek a seventh term. Emanuel moved back to Chicago in October after he quit working for Obama to campaign full-time.

The three main other candidates running -- former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, former schools President Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle -- have been critical of Emanuel during the race, calling him an outsider who doesn't know Chicago.

01/27/2011 8:19 PM EST

Mayoral Debate

For those interested in the Chicago mayor's race in general, check out our live blog of tonight's debate here.

01/27/2011 7:35 PM EST

Statement From Chicago Board Of Elections:

Statement of Langdon D. Neal, Chairman of the Chicago Election Board: "The printing has moved ahead steadily, working all three shifts since Tuesday. We are well into the process with more than 1 million ballots printed." "It's good to have certainty in the citywide contests launch Early Voting at all 51 sites and start processing absentee-ballot applications on Monday." "We will be giving voters from about 10 wards notices that there are court cases pending in certain aldermanic contests. These notices will remind the voters that they may vote now or vote later, but once they cast a ballot, there are no do-overs. Under the law, voters cannot return to change their votes for any reason."

01/27/2011 7:08 PM EST

Should Be An Interesting Debate..

We will be live blogging the Chicago mayoral debate tonight at 7 p.m. CDT. Stay tuned!

01/27/2011 7:04 PM EST

Obama Calls Rahm

Rahm Emanuel told a group of reporters Thursday that he received a call of support from President Obama following the Supreme Court's decision.

01/27/2011 6:30 PM EST

"Entirely Clear"

More from the Court's ruling:

So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear. 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.

Two justices concurred "specially," meaning they filed their own opinion agreeing with the ruling but disagreeing with the reasoning. "The result in this case is in no way as clear-cut as the majority makes it out to be," Justices Freeman and Burke write.

01/27/2011 6:27 PM EST

Heading To The "L"

The Emanuel camp is setting up an impromptu appearance for the candidate at a downtown "L" stop. From a campaign email:

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel will appear at the Clark/Lake L stop. 5:15 PM CST Clark/Lake L Stop (lower level) 100/124 West Lake Street Chicago, IL OPEN PRESS*

We're guessing he might be running a little late, but we doubt that'll bother him too much.

01/27/2011 6:13 PM EST

Rahm Wins, Convincingly

"Appellate court judgment reversed; circuit court judgment affirmed."

With those eight words, the Illinois Supreme Court ended a week of drama (dare we say "dRahma"?) surrounding the Emanuel campaign for Chicago mayor.

All seven justices on the Court voted to overturn the ruling kicking him off the ballot. The unanimous decision is a tremendous boon to Rahm's campaign, and sure makes those two appellate court judges look a bit foolish.

Victory in hand, Rahm will now concentrate on the mayoral debate, which starts in less than two hours.

01/27/2011 5:53 PM EST

Oh Lord...

From Rich Miller at the Capitol Fax:

4:44 pm - I’m hearing the Rahm Emanuel decision is going to be handed down any minute now.

4:46 pm - Maybe not. Just talked with the Supreme Court again. Hang loose, but don’t stray far.

01/27/2011 5:41 PM EST

RULING COMING! (For Real This Time?)

@ChiTribCloutSt tweets:

Illinois Supreme Court expected to issue Rahm Emanuel Chicago mayor's race decision at 4:45 p.m.

Four more minutes, people...

01/27/2011 5:30 PM EST

Less Than Three Hours To The Debate...

...and unless there's word from the Court before then, Rahm will be there.

Details on the debate: it'll air at 7 p.m. Central time tonight, on WGN-TV and streaming live at this link. All four "major" mayoral candidates will be there: Emanuel, Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle, and Carol Moseley Braun. Two others, Patricia Watkins and Dock Walls, polled below 5 percent and weren't invited. Hosts are the Chicago Tribune and the City Club of Chicago; moderators will be Micah Matierre and Bruce Dold.

It'll be interesting to see how the residency issue plays out. Unless he gets a big win beforehand, we imagine Rahm will steer clear from it. Or will he take the bull by the horns? Will one of his opponents take a shot at him on it? Either way, should be good television.

Suggest a correction