Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Image via WikipediaIllinois Supreme Court Orders Emanuel’s Name Back on Ballot - NYTimes.com
CHICAGO —The Illinois Supreme Court puffed life back into Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign on Tuesday when it restored his name to the city’s ballots, at least for now, and agreed to decide whether he should be allowed to run for mayor.
The decisions arrived at a dizzying pace, only a day after a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court had ordered Mr. Emanuel’s name stricken from the ballot, saying his time in Washington as White House chief of staff meant that he failed to meet a requirement of residing in Chicago for a year before the Feb. 22 election.
The Supreme Court’s orders were seen as a positive sign for Mr. Emanuel (the court could have chosen to skip the case altogether), but the justices still have to consider the merits of the case itself, and so Chicago — already suffering from political whiplash — will have to wait a bit more.
The Supreme Court will study briefs already submitted to the lower court, rather than wait for new ones, and will entertain no oral arguments. It is uncertain exactly how quickly a decision will emerge, but deadlines are looming; early voting, for instance, begins Monday.
While Mr. Emanuel seemed to defiantly march on Tuesday with a local Teamsters’ endorsement, a fund-raising event, a meeting with teachers, as if nothing much was going on, his five opponents were left trying to sort out whether the top polling candidate was in or out, and just who, then, to criticize.
City elections officials, too, found themselves trapped in the tangle of the legal fight. With absentee ballots due to be mailed out as early as Friday, the officials had begun printing ballots — without Mr. Emanuel’s name, per the appellate court’s Monday ruling — at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
By noon, with 300,000 ballots done, the Supreme Court said no ballots should be printed without Mr. Emanuel’s name. “We absolutely called the printers and said, ‘Stop the presses,’ ” Jim Allen, a spokesman for Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners, recounted not long after.
And by 2 p.m., election officials started all over, this time printing ballots with all the names. Presuming no new order arrives in the interim, two million of those were to be completed, and the 300,000 shorter ballots were placed in what officials described as a location that was “segregated and secured.” (Depending on the final ruling in this case, they may yet be of value.)
Legal experts cautioned against reading too much into the State Supreme Court’s decision to bar printing of ballots without Mr. Emanuel’s name even before it decides the case. In cases of someone seeking a stay, courts often take into account the possibility of irreparable harm.
“In this case, Emanuel would suffer great harm in the event that his name was left off the ballot and the State Supreme Court reverses” later in the process, said Richard L. Hasen, a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.
For months, even as Mr. Emanuel became the clear front-runner in the race to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley, who will retire this spring, challenges have been simmering over whether he lived here long enough to qualify for the ballot. Such challenges fit into a broader landscape strewn, experts said, with narrow readings of statutory language and broad principles of election law.
In essence, in finding on Monday that Mr. Emanuel did not qualify to run for mayor, the appellate panel relied on a distinction in Illinois’s code between the residency qualifications to cast a vote and the requirements for those running for office. Running for local office, the appellate judges said, actually required a person to physically live in a given city, not just to own property there or pay taxes there, as Mr. Emanuel always had.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr. Emanuel’s lawyers argued that such a distinction “has never been endorsed by this court or by any other appellate court.” And a dissenting member of the appellate panel (the ruling against Mr. Emanuel was 2-1), Bertina E. Lampkin, scoffed that such a distinction was “not based on established law but, rather, on the whims of two judges,” and “should not be allowed to stand.”
Other legal experts pointed to a broader concern in the realm of such election questions.
“In a circumstance where there is uncertainty” about the interpretation of an election statute, Mark D. Rosen, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law said, “basic democratic principles would suggest you would construe the uncertain statute to expand voter choices rather than contract them.”
Professor Rosen pointed, for example, to the circumstances in 2010 of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, who ran for re-election as a write-in candidate and for whom election officials allowed poorly spelled versions of her name.
Still, residency has tripped up candidates before. In 1974, Charles Ravenel was heavily favored to win a race for governor of South Carolina, but was knocked out by a lawsuit that cited a State Constitution requirement that candidates have lived in the state for five years.
Chicago voters, meanwhile, were reeling. At lunch spots downtown on Tuesday, they had questions: Was Mr. Emanuel in? Was he out? Could he ultimately launch a write-in campaign? (Perhaps, though that would likely create new challenges.) Would the election be stopped altogether?
Langdon D. Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, seemed to empathize, even encouraging voters with lingering questions to consider waiting beyond the start of early voting — to see what happens to all of this — before casting their ballots.
“There are no do-overs,” Mr. Neal cautioned. “Once you vote, that’s it.”
Mr. Emanuel’s top opponents — Carol Moseley Braun, a former United States senator, and Gery Chico, a former mayoral chief of staff to Mr. Daley — seemed uncertain about how best to proceed as well. In the past, most of Mr. Emanuel’s opponents have focused squarely on him, but on Tuesday Ms. Braun issued a news release condemning Mr. Chico’s stance (misunderstood, Mr. Chico’s aides say) on whether city workers should live within the city limits.
Still, the effort seemed to draw little notice. And efforts to woo away Mr. Emanuel’s supporters and donors had not worked so far, some from his campaign said; campaign donations have not dropped off.
And while nearly everyone — including the local Teamsters who decided to endorse Mr. Emanuel on Tuesday morning in part because they were angry at the prospect that he might be removed from the ballot — debated his fate, Mr. Emanuel himself seemed intent on talking about anything but.
Inside a fruit warehouse on the Southwest Side, he grinned and high-fived members of the Teamsters and spoke of the city’s struggling economy. He talked about safety on the streets, his tax plan, a comprehensive wellness plan for city workers and the minimum wage.
Finally, pressed by reporters to discuss his ballot woes, he said he intended to go full force ahead. Perhaps he would double up now, he said, adding even more campaign stops, more handshaking visits to trains, more sojourns to bowling alleys.
Monica Davey reported from Chicago and John Schwartz from New York. Emma Graves Fitzsimmons contributed reporting from Chicago.