Illinois Supreme Court to Decide Whether Rahm Can Run for Mayor

Everybody in the world wants this guy on the ballot

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Let's check in with Rahm Emanuel, onetime White House Chief of Staff and current mayoral hopeful in Chicago. When last we saw Rahm, he'd just been thrown off the city ballot by an appellate court. The reason? If you want to run for mayor in Chicago, you have to live there for at least a year before the election. Because Emanuel spent most of 2010 in Washington, D.C., he was ruled ineligible to appear on the ballot, despite enjoying stronger numbers than any other candidate.

Now, though, it looks like Rahm might rise again. The Illinois Supreme Court has stayed the appellate court's decision and agreed to issue a ruling on whether or not Emanuel can remain a candidate. Ballots have already been created that leave off Emanuel's name, but the state Supreme Court has ordered these not to be printed until it reaches a decision. Early voting will start next week, so the pressure is on to resolve this quickly. Meanwhile, among pundits, one finds a great deal of support for Candidate Rahm.

  • Judges, Don't Make This a Political Thing  A staff editorial in the Chicago Tribune urges the state Supreme Court to "rise above politics and act on the law to protect Chicago voters." The editorial notes that the appellate court based its decision on "a groundbreaking residency standard far more restrictive than the one courts have applied for more than a century. That's right, a new rule, starting with Rahm Emanuel." This is the state Supreme Court's moment to prove itself better than that--to "be guided by the law, by the record and by their obligation to preserve the integrity of the electoral system."

  • The Residency Rule Is Discriminatory, argues Eric Zorn, also in the Chicago Tribune. "Why do we, as free citizens and voters, meekly accept the premise that the law must protect us from electing 'outsiders'?" he wonders. "I resent deeply the presumptuous paternalism of a law that tells me I shouldn't be trusted with that choice." Zorn contends that democracy is "weakened and insulted by any restriction that says voters, collectively, aren't wise enough to decide on Election Day who is and who isn't qualified for office."

  • Plus It Makes No Sense, adds Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "What's the point of a rule saying that Chicago's mayor had to reside in Chicago for the 365 days preceding the election?" Klein wonders. "What are the voters being protected from, exactly? ... What's the nightmare scenario here? A Californian?" Klein points out that "we don't do this at other levels of city government" and "we don't do this in business," so "why do we do it here?"

  • There's Really No Basis for Excluding Rahm  James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal points out that according to the Illinois Election Code, "no [voter]... shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States." Since Emanuel was in D.C. on business of the United States, Taranto figures "he is still a qualified elector and a resident of Chicago under the Election Code." Should that not work, Taranto jokes, Emanuel could try claiming military exemption from the law, since "engagement in Beltway political combat is analogous to going off to war."

  • In Rahm's Corner: Jimmy Hoffa's Ghost  "Did a mob protest & Teamsters endorsement keep Rahm on the ballot?" wonders the blog RedState. A post notes that "no sooner did the Teamsters endorse Rahm"--which happened on Tuesday--"than an angry mob spontaneously appeared to protest his removal ... A fish's life was apparently spared on Tuesday, as all it took to get the Supreme Court's cooperation was just a little applied persuasion." (The fish line is a nod to a colorful incident from Emanuel's past.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.