Rahm Emanuel Gets Refresher In Chicago Politics

Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago news conference, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. i i

Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago news conference, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Charles Rex Arbogast/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Rex Arbogast/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago news conference, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.

Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago news conference, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.

Charles Rex Arbogast/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated at 1:32 pm ET — The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that, for now, Rahm Emanuel's name should be printed on the ballots for the Chicago mayoral primary.

In doing so, the court stayed a lower court decision that the name of Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, shouldn't be on the ballot.

The state's highest court still needs to decide whether Emanuel meets the eligibility requirements to run for mayor. The lower court said he didn't.

— original post below —

Anyone who believes in the Chicago political machine's omnipotence may want to revise their theories on how the world works.

After all, if Mayor Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, the man who would be mayor, were in such control, how'd they wind up on the losing end of the Illinois appellate court decision that will keep the latter man off the Feb. 22 primary ballot?

Unless, that is, the Illinois Supreme Court reverses the lower court. Emanuel's lawyers, on Tuesday, took the case to Illinois' highest court.

Because we're talking Chicago politics, there always must be intrigue. And here's some; the two judges who ruled against Emanuel are linked, if indirectly, to one of his rivals for mayor, Gery Chico.

The Chicago Tribune reports that two judges owe their political careers (in Illinois judges are elected) to a politician who backs another mayoral candidate.

Edward Burke, a long-time Chicago alderman, chaired the committee that "slated" the two judges, the Tribune's David Kidwell reports.

Not that the two judges made their decision unfavorable to Emanuel because of that. But it is an intriguing piece of history, you must admit.

Now the case goes to the Illinois Supreme Court. But, being that we're once again talking about Illinois, that leads to another intriguing fact.

A Chicago Tribune excerpt:

Burke, one of Chicago's most powerful politicians, holds huge sway in the election of judges at every level, including the Illinois Supreme Court, where his wife, Anne, sits as a justice and where the Emanuel ballot question is now headed for a final decision.

Burke has openly supported another candidate, Gery Chico, for mayor. A recent Tribune poll showed Chico badly trailing Emanuel.

"The real question now is whether Anne Burke must recuse herself," said Malcolm Rich, executive director of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, a group that evaluates judges and advocates reform. "Yes, there is an inherent conflict. These judges are slated by politicians. That is just the way it is."

Yes, in Illinois, that's the way it is.

Burke does have a history of abstaining in Chicago election-law cases, according to a Sun-Times piece by Tim Novack. That record would seem to make it harder for her do not do so in the Emanuel case.

Both of Chicago's largest newspapers editorially excoriated the appellate court decision. The 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.

And the 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.

For Emanuel, all of this must be a painful refresher course in how politics is played in his home town.

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