Rahm’s Ballot Eligibility Case Appeal and White House Interference

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The decision Monday by the Illinois Court of Appeals to disallow the candidacy for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel as well as his name on the official election ballot stunned many people, and left Emanuel, his political supporters and Wall Street and Hollywood financial bag men scrambling with the ballots set for printing today and the election on the near horizon on February 22. By late Monday night, the Emanuel campaign had already filed an Emergency Motion For Stay Pending Appeal and Expedite Consideration of Petition For Leave To Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. A copy of the filing is here.

Within less than eight hours of Emanuel’s late night filing, at the crack of dawn on ABC’s Good Morning America, Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s most senior and trusted advisor, was delivering a direct message on behalf of the White House commenting on the case and declaring they viewed Emanuel legally eligible:

I think that he believes that [Rahm is] eligible and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts.

I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.

Perhaps, under different circumstances, this would not be a notable event. However, when the President’s closest advisor weighs in with such a statement as to what the law should be, right as the sensitive matter is being presented on an emergency basis to a state supreme court, it is of highly questionable discretion and ethics. The impingement on the local situation is only exacerbated by the close ties Obama has to Emanuel, Chicago, the Daley political machine behind Emanuel (A Daley now serving as Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Illinois. It was an unnecessary and completely inappropriate meddling in a state and local judicial matter that the Obama White House had no business engaging in.

Jarrett’s imposition of the White House thumb of comment here is even more telling when juxtaposed with the consistent position she and Obama insisted on taking, and still maintain, with relation to the court process in the legal challenges to the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Obama, Valerie Jarrett and the White House have consistently refused to take a position on how the DADT constitutional litigation should be decided in public statements and appearances and, in fact, are STILL officially supporting the disgraceful policy in courts under the guise that law must be supported and courts left undisturbed to decide the matter unfettered. Apparently such ethical and moral restraint does not apply when it comes to their friend and political crony’s local election litigation.

Which brings us to the law Mr. Obama and Ms. Jarrett are so positive stands for the eligibility of Emanuel. You have to wonder if either one of these trained lawyers bothered to actually read the law, because the statute, on it’s face, reads directly contrary to the position they take with such certainty. As Adam Bonin delineated yesterday, the election law at issue reds different than most assume and is quite clear:

So let’s take a look at the actual statute which governs this ballot requirement:

Sec. 3.1‑10‑5. Qualifications; elective office.

(a) A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 3.1‑20‑25, subsection (b) of Section 3.1‑25‑75, Section 5‑2‑2, or Section 5‑2‑11.

“And has resided in.” Well, that’s a bit different from “has a residence in,” which I think was our assumption as to what the law required….

Emanuel didn’t meet that test, but there’s this statutory exception:

10 ILCS 5/3-2

No elector or spouse 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, or of this State.

The Court found this provision inapplicable as to Emanuel. Yes, they say, it means that he didn’t lose his “residence” in Chicago to qualify as a registered voter, but it doesn’t mean he “resided in” Chicago during the interim either.

That plain language limits the reach of the “business of the United States” exception to “elector[s]” or their spouses; it makes no mention of “candidates.” Further, as we have noted, we must interpret statutes “as a whole, with each provision construed in connection with every other section.” Section 3-2’s “business of the United States” exception is housed not only in the Election Code, but in a portion of the Election Code dealing exclusively with voter qualification, in fact in an Article titled “Qualification of Voters.”

In other words, “Rahm, you can vote for anyone you want in this election … except you, because you can’t be on the ballot.”

Adam is exactly right. And one other thing should be pointed out, the exceptions contained within the clause “…except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 3.1‑20‑25, subsection (b) of Section 3.1‑25‑75, Section 5‑2‑2, or Section 5‑2‑11”, ALL pertain strictly to voting rights, NOT office candidacy eligibility rights.

The full decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals is here, and it is extremely well reasoned and supported. The judge, Thomas Hoffman, authoring the opinion has long been considered by litigants across the spectrum as fair and the leading intellect on the court. The exceptions Rahm Emanuel seeks to rely on are, by their wording and designation, only applicable to voting rights; not the right to run for and hold office. Yes, you can certainly convolute and extrapolate around that; but it is not the natural logic path as convincingly demonstrated by Justice Hoffman and the majority in the Illinois Court of Appeals.

Perhaps the law is unfair to individuals under the circumstances attendant to Mr. Emanuel; it is certainly easy to understand how a person could take that position or consider it silly. However, if this crystal clear law is “silly” or “unfair”, then it should be amended or repealed; not just blithely ignored and convoluted for one powerful and connected man, Rahm Emanuel. Yet that is exactly what Mr. Emanuel and the Obama White House think he is due.

UPDATE: This morning, the Washington Post has caught on to the the issue here and provides additional details about the coordinated effort by Barack Obama and the White House to intentionally inject themselves into the state and local election ballot challenge in order to selectively help their friend and crony, Rahm Emanuel.

President Obama launched his political career in Chicago by maneuvering to keep a rival off the ballot in a state Senate campaign. Fifteen years later, he is reaching back from the White House into the city’s bruising political ring – this time in an effort to shield former aide Rahm Emanuel from losing a ballot dispute of his own in a hotly contested mayoral race.

The president called Emanuel, his former White House chief of staff, on Monday after an Illinois appellate court declared him ineligible to appear on the ballot because he does not meet the city’s residency requirement. On Tuesday morning, Obama sent senior adviser Valerie Jarrett out on the television circuit, where she told an ABC interviewer that the president “believes that [Emanuel is] eligible.”

Emanuel grabbed the baton from his former boss. His lawyers invoked Obama’s name repeatedly in legal briefs filed Tuesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate ruling would also make the president ineligible to run for a city office in his home town. And Emanuel told supporters that he was inspired to push ahead by the president’s history of ignoring critics in the “birther” movement.

This is literally a stunning and ethically bereft power and intimidation play by Obama and his White House. Why other members of the major media are not also questioning and reporting on this inappropriate attempt to influence a local judicial determination is anybody’s guess.

  1. orionATL says:

    “of highly questionable discretion and ethics”.

    yes indeed, but the obama administration is all about the use of power, often the ruthless or illicit use of power, for obama’s political benefit.

    in this case, though, i’d guess v. jackson was responding to a plea from emmanuel for the prez to take a public position.

    o was being loyal to his former c-of-staff and had jackson show up on teevee to shore up emmanuel’s rather desperate legal situation.

  2. PJEvans says:

    I have to admit, I’d like to see Rahm on the ballot, but only so he can finish third. I suspect a lot of Chicago voters are not that fond of him that they want him as mayor.

  3. prostratedragon says:

    Those could both be true, e.g. if it were a likely-voter poll. Turnout for mayoral elections has been dismal in recent years, for some reason.

  4. rgreen says:

    Not being a lawyer, it seems to my untutored mind that this is a matter for the state courts of IL, and the federal executive has no standing to register an opinion; so what’s the fuss? Obama can lead a chorus of squawkers if he thinks it will improve his image, but to what avail? Surely there is no mechanism that would cause state judges to be intimidated by some federal whimsy; that would be a sign of..what,corruption?

    Nice picture,(especially with that anguished face in the background). A model of governmental decorum.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, that may be. But in a politically charged state like Illinois, where the President is from and is as we speak cranking back up his political operation, what that President says and wants may indeed have some effect on judges that are elected in partisan contests. Would it not be much more appropriate for a White House to say “I think Rahm would make a fine mayor, as to the legal issue I will leave that to the Illinois courts”?

  5. HanTran says:

    Look Bmaz I don’t much care for Rahm either but he clearly meets the elector standard and the residency requirement is not defined or discussed at all, except you saying that “business of the US” doesn’t apply to it.

    The Il court of appeals decision is dreadfully reasoned, it is a morass of self-contradictions. Notice particularly how madigan vs baumgartner and walsh vs county officers… is brought up early in the decision and then entirely ignored.

    • bmaz says:

      What in the world is even remotely unclear about

      …and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment

      There is nothing unclear about that requirement in the least. As to definitions, as the court described, unless otherwise specifically defined, words are to be given their common meaning. The common meaning of “residing in the municipality” is, you know, actually living there. Calling the Ct of Appeals decision contradictory and poorly reasoned is curious, you sure did not read the same decision I did.

    • bmaz says:

      I will agree with you that I wish the majority had related their discussion distinguishing the voter requirements from the residency requirements back to Baumgartner and Walsh , and that they would have been well served to have done so. I think that both of those decisions were rather sloppily framed in the way they casually accepted voter standards for residency standards, and I think it even possible to distinguish a student with active family still in the home jurisdiction situation from Rahms. Not to mention that, as even the dissent of Justice Lampkin admits, they are lateral decisions and/or from outside districts not binding on the court. Still, they should have been contrasted and distinguished more fully, and they could indeed have been.

    • Mary says:

      I completely disagree – the opinion is very well reasoned and is exactly how statutory interpretation works. Agree with it or not, it is absolutely on the mark from a statutory interpretation standpoint- if it gets overturned it is likely to be based only on a disagreement by the Sup Ct on the fuzzy issue of legislative intent. That will likely be a determination of whether physical residence or legal residence (which is actually better termed “domicile”) is at issue in the different statutory references.

      All statutory interpretation rules yield the result that the court’s majority decided. It’s going to take the Sup Ct giving a different review standard to the statutory language (which might happen) or giving a different take on legislative intent (which might happen) or ignoring proper statutory construction (which I hope doesn’t happen) to get around this very well put together opinion.

      Domicile (the “legal residence” standard for much of the voter law, although with the “legal” clarifier dropped from much of the Illinois interpretive decisions) has never been synonymous with “resides in” although sometimes “resides in” issues (permanent, physical abode) are elements of legal residence/domicile. So legal residence and domicile have never been synonymous. Ask any probate lawyer. Or divorce lawyer with multi-residence clients for that matter.

      The Municipal code provides for two different requirements “A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment” (emph added)it brings in two different qualifications.

      First, Rahm has to be a qualified elector – which means that he has to be a qualified voter – in the municipality. Voting rights are usually based on domicile/legal residence so unsurprisingly, the law about a voter having the right to vote in a place revolve around the issue of where the voter had the intent to return. Still, in general those requirements also include that along with that intent to return, the voter has to have a fixed and permanent physical abode.

      Under those general requirements, Rahm might not qualify under Illinois law to be a voter or a candidate based on the admitted facts. The time frame during which you have to have had a physical and permanent abode in the district in order to vote there is shorter than one year, so he might – I haven’t done an EW timeline on that. In addition, “intent” is usually proven objectively (not just by someone showing up and saying “I intended to return”) and time periods count against you on intent. So for a normal person seeking to be treated as a qualified voter, even if they kept and rented out their house while they were gone, being gone for over a year would count against their “intent to return”

      But disenfranchising someone from being able to vote is a big deal and most states recognize that there are legitimate reasons for someone who has an “intent to return” to be left without a place of “permanent abode” or to be gone for longer than the presumptive period of abandoment of intent. So they carve out a few clear exceptions to the rule on the permanent abode for “legal residence” for people who are gone on business of the United States. They do a similar carve out for soldiers. So things like the length of time you were away will not count against you, for purposes of being qualified as a voter, if the reason you are gone fits into the carve outs (being an active duty soldier or being away on business of the United States).

      As the Court points out, once upon a time, the IL constitution also gave this kind of a carve out to candidates as well as voters. But when the Constitution was revised, the carve out for candidates went away and was not revived in any statutes or codes. That’s pretty significant from a statutory interpretation standpoint to weigh against any legislative intent to give the carve out to candidates as well as voters.

      So RE has to do two things – he has to be qualified as a voter and to meet that prong of the test, he is eligible to use the statutory carve out:

      § 3-2. (a) A permanent abode is necessary to constitute

      a residence within the meaning of Section 3-1. No elector or

      spouse 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, or of

      this State.

      (emph. added)

      But he has to be more than a qualified voter. He also has to have “resided in” Chicago for a year. There is no carve out for that – nothing that says a candidate who was away on business of the United States gets to waive the one year “resided in” requirement. And it is a different thing for legislators (who are presumed to know how to draft legislation – although don’t ask me why on that one) to give, as the second prong, a requirment to have maintained a residence in the area as opposed to a requiement that he resided in.

      While it is not precedential in value, the court even finds an earlier (MUCH earlier – a lot of the cases at issue in this proceeding reach back into not only the early 1900s, but even into the 1800s) case discussing this very topic and talking about the fact that the requirement for a candidate to “reside in” is so that the candidate will be familiar with local issues.

      Makes sense.

      In any event, the statutory construction is dead on. Whether legislative intent and board deference impacts the ultimate outcome is a different issue, but the IL Sup Ct has to toss out all normative rules of statutory construction to reach a different result than this court, imo, fwiw.

      • PJEvans says:

        Mary, I’m reading that ‘elector or spouse’ clause as not applying to Rahm, because he didn’t go to DC in either capacity, and I think if he wants it to apply to him, it’s going to require that the Illinois legislature amend thelaw. (IANAL.)

        • Mary says:

          Sorry – way epu’d, but to clarify that section, it helps to remember that “elector” is pretty much synonymous with “voter” in those code sections. So what it is saying is that neither a voter nor a voter’s spouse (interesting that they don’t mention voting age children who might live with them) will lose their right to claim residency (which usually requires a permanent abode in the geographic area) if the reason they are gone is US gov business. I think the court pretty much says that Rahm does qualify in their opinion for that exception, but the problem is – it is only an exception that gets Rahm “qualified” as an “elector” (voter).

          The statute for being a candidate says he has to be qualified as an elector AND have resided inthe area for a year (to be a voter I think the residency would only have to be a month or so- less than a year). Don’t know if that makes it more clear or not.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Residency” in the context here means “regularly living in” the city. Otherwise, every landlord who owned property in the city could claim to run for public office.

    An intent to return from sabbatical in Washington, which seems adequate to maintain voter registration or a state license to operate a motor vehicle – a different relationship to the city and state than running for elected office – is not the same thing as regularly living in the city for “at least one year next preceding the election or appointment”.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Having leased his house, Mr. Emanuel gave up his short term possessory interest in it and was obligated to give his tenant “quiet enjoyment” of it for the term of the lease, assuming the tenant otherwise complied with its terms. Mr. Emanuel’s continued ownership of the property would not have been sufficient. He resided in Washington. He wasn’t on an extended leave or vacation; he didn’t leave virtually all his family possessions at “home” in Chicago; he took them with him. When he left the city, according to his Washington lease, he intended to be gone for the duration of his work in Washington, which he clearly intended last more than a year.

    Had Mr. Emanuel been smart, or less greedy – he was already a millionaire from a short stint as an “investment banker” – he could have left his house unleased and filled with furniture, goods and memories, and come back on weekends and holidays, etc. That would have supported the position that, like many Congresscritters, he was traveling to Washington and hadn’t changed his residency to Washington.

    That he failed to obtain the right to vote or request a license to drive a motor vehicle in DC are indicia of residency, but ones daily flouted by lobbyists, politicians and political appointees, and businessmen, but not by less connected bureaucrats, who have to comply with the law or risk censure, poor performance evaluations, or blots on their security clearances.

    Mr. Emanuel and his boss, as in so many other things, thought they owned the place and wanted it all. They aren’t Democrats that William Jennings Bryan would recognize. They are Chicago pols he would, and so would Al Capone.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The statutory exception that allows a traveler “doing the business of the United States” to keep his or her residency troubled the appellate court because it concluded that it applied only to residency for voting purposes, not for being eligible to run for office.

      As I said, a little planning and forethought, a little less greed, and this case would never have arisen. Those are not the characteristics of Mr. Emanuel, or it seems, Mr. Obama.

  8. pdaly says:

    Couldn’t Rahm say that with the help of Total Information Awareness he was for all practical purposes “living” life in Chicago for the last year at least one hour every day? /s

    On second thought, since the military has a direct role in this eavesdropping this line of argument might open a can of worms and be an indirect admission that troops are quartering themselves in our homes without our permission, especially since we are not officially at war…

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The appellate court distinguished the requirements for residency in order to be eligible to vote from those applying to whether a candidate is qualified to run for office. One of its panel disagreed, as did the lower “court” whose decision it reversed. The State Supreme Court may yet override the appellate court or agree with it.

    The issue is not crystal clear; the courts have clearly not had to address these exact facts before. It’s precisely the sort of decision making we have courts to do. Those decisions naturally have consequences, some of them unwelcome to litigants.

    As bmaz says, that makes the White House’s explicit intrusion into an ongoing civil case extraordinarily offensive, let alone in Obama’s home state and in a city Rahm hopes to rule and one from which he and his colleagues will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help re-elect Mr. Obama.

    This White House seems to have created an exception to its much touted “don’t look back” campaign, in an ongoing case that personally interests the president, his campaign, and his current and former chiefs of staff.
    That stands out for many reasons, not least because of the hundreds of investigations and prosecutions it has ignored, let lapse or never started because they might have been politically embarrassing.

    Mr. Obama, despite his Harvard Law studies and Chicago Law teaching background, does not seem to regard the rule of law as a principal and a foundation of democracy, but as broom with which to sweep away irritants.

    • bmaz says:

      If you are up for it take a look at Baumgartner. It does make it at least an interesting discussion regarding voter versus resident requirements. I still think it and Walsh were fairly sloppily crafted on that issue, almost as an afterthought to their real analysis, but do constitute at least some fodder.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The first thing apparent from Baumgartneris that the indicia of residency are many and contradictory. Indicting the defendant for felony perjury seems punitive, not protective of voters, especially in light of the defendant’s reasonable reliance on the opinions of counsel that he met the requirements to be eligible to run for office in Moultrie County.

        In that light, the appellate court made mincemeat of the claim that defendant “wilfully, corruptly, and falsely” testified as to “a matter material to the issue or point in question” sufficient to constitute perjury. Given the lengthy prison term the defendant might have faced, and the precedent upholding his conviction would have set, it’s fortunate the court decided as it did. The dissenting judge, in effect, said “F**k him”, he was properly charged and convicted, in about as many words, with one citation but no reasoning to back it up.

        The case doesn’t seem to help or hinder Rahm’s case except insofar as it fails to distinguish residency requirements for voting from those required to run for public office. The Baumgartner court was concerned primarily with the felony perjury issue. It seems to have assumed without deciding that residency requirements for the two purposes are the same:

        [B]ecause [*11] eligibility to run for office is closely linked to the ability to vote within a particular jurisdiction, we will use the definition of “residence” as used within the Election Code for voter registration.

        That doesn’t help Rahm, I don’t think, because he is working with more particular rules that apply in Chicago, and with an exception not relevant in Baumgartner, the one concerning being out of state on the “business of the United States”.

        In Baumgartner, the defendant lived in two separate Illinois counties, in Moultrie, where he grew up and owned property, and in Champagne, where he owned property for part of the time that he earned three university degrees over ten years. He repeatedly went home to Moultrie County, buying and working his farm and residing there for part of the year when he wasn’t studying in Champagne Urbana. That’s actually the more common fact situation regarding residency to vote or run for office.

        Rahm may have intended to return to Chicago. But it is as much conjecture to say that he would as it is that he would have jumped at another appointment for Obama outside of Chicago – the Supreme Court, say – or to accept a wildly overcompensated investment banking job in New York or London.

        Despite Chicago being where Rahm’s strongest political ties were, unlike the defendant in Baumgartner, he doesn’t seem to have returned to Chicago “to live there” except when his presence was required to perform some immediate political service. The defendant in Baumgartnerfrequently returned home to work, to live, and to be with family and friends. To me, Rahm’s case appears to be the reverse of Baumgartner’s facts, and to better fit the dissenting judge’s cynical characterization: “the defendant used residence as a convenience to his best interest.”

        • bmaz says:

          Right, and the other distinction I see is that it appears Baumgartner’s family was consistently in the putative residence location, whereas Emanuel took them entirely lock stock and barrel to Washington. In fact, I believe they are still there because the kids are in school. As i conceded to Han Tran above though, it would have been nice if Hoffman had dispatched this a a little better in his majority opinion.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Let’s see what the Illinois Supremes do with it, despite Obama’s White House and the Chicago political machine having tried to tie their hands.

  10. danw5 says:

    “I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.” and

    “10 ILCS 5/3-2

    No elector or spouse 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, or of this State”

    Please! You can’t have it both way’s which the court seems to want. He’s a resident or not! If he is a resident, pays taxes and VOTES there, he should be able to run there. Seems to me the entire exception is moot if the ONLY disqualifier one would want to use is that he cant run. That makes utterly no sense at all!

    Though not quite the same, try Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)! Nothing like the US Supreme Court deciding an election. This made justice Souter so ill he wanted to quit, and eventually did!

  11. JamesJoyce says:

    This decision is wrong and will be overturned by the Ill. SJC. Imagine during WWII being called by a President to serve. Any move to D.C. is temporary. It is for the purpose of conducting the nation’s business at the request of a President. Imagine Truman or Ike, requesting your service in DC, then being precluded from participating in home state, politics? It is wrong and will be overturned.

    • bmaz says:

      That is a fine sentiment. But it is NOT what the statute reads. I can understand your sentiment, heck I can even agree with it. But in that case, the statute should be amended as opposed to a bastardized and contrived decision made to help one man, which is exactly what you are suggesting. You will be glad to know though, I fully expect you will get your wish and that yet another court will bow to political pressure and simply contort and extrapolate a decision to avoid the clear meaning of a law in order to help the rich and powerful. And thus yet another chunk of the rule of law will be made a mockery of and lost to the whims of the powerful. And Rahm Emanuel can be handed the mayor’s crown he feels so self entitled to own.

      • b2020 says:

        Well, maybe the commenters here are trying to do their own half-baked blog version of jury nullification – on behalf of Emmanuel, no less. The rule of law, it’s a quantum mechanical thing – the closer you read the letter, the more elusive the spirit. Of course, if you really want the rule of law, you fix the law. Those for whom expediency and their own judgment trumps the Sisyphean effort to refine the imperfect, see this Heisenbug as a feature.

        I’d like to see half of that revolutionary energy expended on laws more worthy of overturning – let alone enforcement of the ones that should be beyond dispute, such as the Torture Convention. Given the state of the union, I couldn’t care less about how Emmanuel wishes to spend his retirement. As injustice goes, this would seem a poetically just one.

        • bmaz says:

          As injustice goes, this would seem a poetically just one.

          That is just so incredibly correct. Especially when you consider how often Chicago political careers have been made not so much by a candidates winning electability and skill, but by his ability to keep opponents off the ballot. This is something Rahm and Obama are both intimately familiar with and exactly how Obama got to where he is through Chicago politics.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            This is one circumstance where I think the claim that Mr. Obama plays eleventy-dimensional chess may have merit. More prosaicly, it’s a specific battle tactic he has used in the past and is well versed in it.

            As for Mary’s excellent comment @31, it seems possible that the Illinois Supremes might also try to invalidate the one-year residency requirement for candidates (assuming they can’t find a way to conflate it and the requirements to be a qualified voter) on constitutional grounds, though I’m not sure exactly what the argument would be. But courts ordinarily avoid basing decisions on constitutional grounds when statutory or other grounds can be used instead.

            More likely, they will be tempted to conclude that voting and candidacy determinations are equivalent, which will require a detailed disagreement with the appellate court’s reasoning. The philosophical rationalization for doing so might be that it is better for the “people” to decide at the ballot box, not the judges in the court room. In general, I think that’s often a cop out.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A move to DC is “temporary” if that’s what it’s intended to be. It’s as temporary and changeable as the intention to return to a specific place is for a politician who would readily go anywhere his ambition takes him.

    The appellate court’s decision is rational and within a reasonable reading of the applicable law. Mr. Emanuel’s move to DC was not like many Congresscritter’s, who take greater pains to maintain a physical and political presence in their home jurisdictions. Mr. Emanuel is not being deprived of his vote, nor of an opportunity to run in statewide elective office; he might be deprived of running for citywide office because he failed to maintain adequate minimum contacts, requirements that were publicly available to Mr. Emanuel at the time he packed his family and his bags and went to DC.

    The Obama White House, even in extended metaphor, is not like FDR’s and moving to DC to be part of it was not like doing so in the midst of World War II. And nothing in that argument excuses the White House’s blatant interference, pre-judging the conclusion to a state judicial matter currently under emergency consideration by Illinois’s highest court.

  13. BoxTurtle says:

    I hate to say it, but I’m on Rahm’s side. I don’t think that someone should lose their right to run for office when they are called to serve the president based on the tricks and turns in the wording of the law.

    Boxturtle (Above opinion does not appear to have basis in Illnois law)

    • kgb999 says:

      I’m on the side of (apparent) Illinois law on this. If it were voting rights, I’d be just the opposite. But it isn’t.

      When it comes down to it, a mayor’s job is attending to local needs. Filling potholes. Knowing the snow-removal routines. Being connected to the school issues, contract disputes and petty nonsense going on in the City Council. It’s a job for the good of the city, not the aggrandizement of the office holder. I don’t care how amazingly patriotic a person’s government service was while they were away; it’s pretty difficult to argue they have been directly immersed or impacted by contemporary local issues. It’s a good law and it neutralizes an inherent political advantage held by a person whom logic dictates could not possibly be the most prepared for the job.

      I’d say the same for Obama (or any president). If the SOB is into local Chicago issues to the level of detail where he’s the most qualified person to be mayor …. I want my damn money back!

      There is a direct carve-out for military soldiers. It hardly seems overly disenfranchising. Every decision has a consequence. If he wanted to be mayor, he should have sat out FinReg. Let him cool his heels for four years and collect his rewards as a private citizen for a while.

      • bmaz says:

        Right; there is a perfectly logical, reasonable and rational basis for the provision – local officeholders should be immersed in and attuned to the local community when they are seeking the office. It is not a spurious or illegitimate intent in the least and it is perfectly consistent with being an additional requirement than that of a mere individual voter. If the law were different now, or were it to be amended to remove this requirement, that would be reasonable and understandable as well; but it is not currently different nor has it yet been amended or rescinded and it should be properly applied as written.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You still seem to think laws and the rule of law should apply to MOTU and their hirelings in government. That’s sooo constitutional and sooo pre-9/11.

          You know it changed everything, don’t you, including sending us back in time to the Gilded Age. Yes, that was Mrs. Astor you saw in Phoenix the other week, preparing to attend that fancy dress ball as one of those new-fangled light bulbs. They’re all the rage, but woe unto those progressives who want to institute an income tax.

  14. bear says:

    actions of a career politician to my eyes and not at all about wanting to serve the people’s interest.

  15. rosalind says:

    bmaz has an update on his twitter feed, linking to this WAPO article:

    His (Emanuel) lawyers invoked Obama’s name repeatedly in legal briefs filed Tuesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate ruling would also make the president ineligible to run for a city office in his home town.

    • dhfsfc says:

      bmaz has an update on his twitter feed, linking to this WAPO article:

      His (Emanuel) lawyers invoked Obama’s name repeatedly in legal briefs filed Tuesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate ruling would also make the president ineligible to run for a city office in his home town.

      Oh, no! You mean this would make Obama ineligible to run for Dog Catcher in Chicago? Well, I’m sure he’ll be too busy attending to Goldman Sachs business to do that anyway.

  16. Mary says:

    OT – Did Obama mention Tunisia or Egypt? I know we go so out of our way to be supportive of student and populace uprisings in Iran, I just wondered what kind of a shout out he gave those uprisings. ;)

  17. tanbark says:


    The preznint of the United States pimps for his former Chief of Staff, in a pending case for the Illinois Supreme Court, while Elena Kagan, his latest pick for SCOTUS, recuses herself from nearly half of the cases on the current docket.

  18. eCAHNomics says:

    Oh, I don’t know. When it comes to courts & politics & interference & all that, I still think SCOTUS choosing prez takes the prize.

  19. jayt says:

    I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.

    Sounds simple to me.

    The WH *really, really* wants to be sure Rahm’s not coming back to the WH.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s hard to imagine Rahm being given the mayor’s office is not part of an explicit, complex deal involving Obama, Emanuel and the Daley machine. First, it displaces a Daley in an office the family has virtually owned for generations. Second, Obama and Emanuel seem to be part of the same machine politics.

      Such a complex deal would involve a detailed division of spoils at this round, with more to follow. For example, a Daley has just been made second-in-command at the White House. As for Rahm, stage two might involve the governorship or more likely a senate seat.

      An obvious candidate for inclusion in such a deal is that Obama is gearing up his re-election team and basing it in Chicago. It will involve a lot of hiring, a process that will in part determine who becomes a politically made man, and choosing how to spend nearly a billion dollars. The patronage one can buy with that much money would make even Al Capone leer at the prospect of it.

  20. BillyP says:

    How does Rahm feel about the events in the other country in which he holds citizenship?

    On 13 December, officials with the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), the government agency that manages and leases state land, entered the Palestinian section of the segregated city flanked by bulldozers and hundreds of municipal, riot squad and border police forces. The bulldozers then demolished seven homes all belonging to the Abu Eid family in Lyd.

    The demolition, which took several hours, subsequently displaced 67 members of the entire family, including dozens of children, during one of the worst rainstorms of the season.

  21. Crystal says:

    I think that perhaps since Rahm was President Obama’s Chief Of Staff thus causing him to move his family to DC, as opposed to when he was a Congressman, that president Obama feels a certain sense of responsibilty forRahm’s predicament. I hope he is able to remain on the ballot and wins. He’s the type of person that Chicago needs I believe.

    • bmaz says:

      So, your belief that Rahm is “the type of person that Chicago needs” outweighs and is more important than following and giving meaning and execution the the clear wording and intent of the law – the clear letter of the law should just be ignored so that Rahm can ascend to the throne?

      That is certainly a refreshing view for a citizen to take. Or, you know, not so much.

      • foxman says:


        While I despise Rahm, I think there would be a certain entertainment value in him bein’ da next mare. Whoever gets this job will inherit a huge mess. (Much like Obama.)
        I can sit on the sidelines (in Evanston) and laugh.

        But, my dad was a lawyer and he always said that you have to live by the letter of the law, even if it is poorly worded.

        So if the Supremes follow that maxim, it’s bye bye Rahm.

        • bmaz says:

          Heck, he may be the best of the folks who want the job; I don’t know that much about the others, except a little about Braun. Rahm does have some good point, he is certainly bright, tough and a very hard worker. There are, of course, a litany of well discussed negatives too. All I know is that, looking at the law, I very much agree with the Court of Appeals decision and am very put off by the inappropriate intermeddling by the White House. So for those reasons, it very much does not sit right by me.

  22. solerso says:

    “I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination”

    and i cannot think of a single reason why the white house thinks it has any interest in making such a comment. i dont give a flying fuck if they promised rahmbo the mayorship of Chicago, its none of the WH’s goddamn business.

  23. lizpolaris says:

    ‘ethically bereft’

    Truly this is the hallmark of our first black president. Is he proud to leave such a legacy? I couldn’t believe that there would be a government more amoral than Bush II, but he had some twisted belief in apocalyptic prophesy. No such justification exists for Obama, who seems to be out for mere self-aggrandizement, like some African dictator. OMG, I’ll be accused of racism. Can’t call it like I see it.

  24. Night Owl says:

    This is literally a stunning and ethically bereft power and intimidation play….

    In Chicago we call that, “business as usual.”

  25. spanishinquisition says:

    Funny how the White House can comment on the legality things like Rahm running for Mayor and the individual mandate, but when it comes to Constitutional questions about gay marriage, the White House says they can’t comment because Obama isn’t a judge.

  26. nextstopchicago says:

    I’d suggest that the direct intimidation level is low – the Supreme Court justices in Illinois are very political, and they actually know what political resources are marshalled against Rahm (believe it or not, there are important local viscounts and earls who will do quite a lot to keep Rahm out.) So at the level of political intimidation, the administration’s clout is mostly a counter to other sources of clout. It shows how manipulated democratic politics are here, but it’s not sui generis.

    I think these efforts are more important in a different way – as window into, symbol of the political muscle behind Rahm’s fundraising. When big Washington firms force partners to give $1,000 to a mayoral candidate in Chicago, it’s not so much because they’re expecting new business in Chicago (the one major firm where I heard about this has very little presence here). It’s because they know this is important enough to the president that the administration will reward him.

    It’s incredible to think what’s being sold for Rahm to win this thing. It’s like Putin.

    • bmaz says:

      Interesting take. I fully admit I have no particular knowledge of how the WH pressure would affect (although I was aware the justices are elected albeit it with ten year terms I think); but clearly they were convinced it would via some modality. That may be a pretty damn good point; with all the major outside Dem money that has been given Rahm, it may be in decent part about protecting that too. What I do know is, it was not appropriate for the WH to be so aggressively and pointedly intervening, especially in such an obviously and patently coordinated fashion with the Rahm Campaign. I know this too will pass, but it is a maddening ever downward march and we needed so desperately for this administration to stanch that. Not to be apparently.

  27. Caro says:

    Not allowing his name on the ballot would have injured the petitioner, Emanuel.

    Legal niceties be damned.

    Carolyn Kay