Rahm Emanuel can vote in Chicago, but can't run for mayor, court rules

Steve Korris Jan. 24, 2011, 12:22pm



CHICAGO – Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel can vote in Chicago but that doesn't mean he can run for mayor, First District appellate judges ruled on Jan. 24.

Justices Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Hall ordered city election commissioners to exclude or, if necessary, remove Emanuel, a Democrat, from the ballot for the Feb. 22 election.

Hoffman wrote that "a candidate must meet not only the election code's voter residence standard, but also must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy."

Hoffman and Hall reversed election commissioners and Cook County Circuit Judge Mark Ballard, who ordered Emanuel's name to appear on the ballot.

Commissioners and Ballard reasoned that state election law creates an exception for those who move away temporarily on government business.

Hoffman and Hall held that the exception applies to voting but not to running.

They plowed through 193 years of history only to find their answer in the words of the last person to amend the law, State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville).

Hoffman wrote that an amendment Luechtefeld sponsored in 2007, allowing those returning from military duty to run for local office, undercut Emanuel's argument.

He wrote that a clause in the amendment refers to a person becoming again a resident of a municipality.

"If the military service person must 'again' become a resident of the municipality, then it logically follows that the person lost his or her resident status at some time prior thereto," Hoffman wrote.

He quoted Luechtefeld telling other legislators an individual came back from Iraq and wanted to run but didn't meet the one year residency requirement.

Hoffman rejected Emanuel's argument that the amendment applies when a service member abandons a residence and establishes another.

He wrote that the argument would limit Luechtefeld's amendment to an almost imperceptibly narrow class of individuals.

He wrote that he and Hall interpreted it to apply to a common situation.

Their scrutiny of Luechtefeld's language disturbed Justice Bertina Lampkin, who mocked it as "an exhaustive (or, rather, exhausting) discussion."

She wrote that they spent five pages on a subsection of municipal code that doesn't apply to the present case.

"It is patently clear that the majority fails to even attempt to define its newly discovered standard because it is a figment of their imagination," she wrote.

"How many days may a person stay away from his home before the majority would decide he no longer actually resides in it?" Lampkin wrote.

"A standard which cannot be defined cannot be applied."

She wrote that Hoffman and Hall should have remanded the case to the election commissioners for further hearing.

"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.

She wrote that the majority disenfranchised the candidate and everyone who would consider voting for him.

She wrote that Emanuel and his wife were reluctant to lease the home but they heeded advice to lease it for safety's sake.

She wrote that they left in the basement 100 boxes of belongings including her wedding gown, heirlooms, photographs, and clothing and school projects of their children.

She wrote that Emanuel didn't vote in Washington, change his driver's license, purchase property in Washington, or demonstrate intent to sell the home.

Walter Maksym and Thomas McMahon challenged Emanuel's qualifications.

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