Ward Room
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Supreme Court Says Rahm Can Run

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The mayoral candidate was out and about after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor on the residency issue.

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Odelson: "We Did Everything We Could Do Legally"

Election attorney Burt Odelson reacts to the Illinois Supreme Court's decision that Rahm Emanuel can remain on the ballot for Chicago mayor.
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Rahm Emanuel won't have to deal with residency issues anymore.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 7-0 Thursday to overturn an Illinois Appellate Court decision to keep Rahm Emanuel off the mayoral ballot.

The unanimous ruling says the Appellate Court over-reached on its determination that Emanuel abandoned his residence.

All of that said, and putting aside the appellate court’s conclusion that Smith is not binding in this case, the appellate court’s residency analysis remains fundamentally flawed. This is because, even under traditional principles of statutory analysis, the inevitable conclusion is that the residency analysis conducted by the hearing officer, the Board, and the circuit court was proper.

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So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear. This court’s decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Board’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Board’s decision was not clearly erroneous. Appellate court judgment reversed;circuit court judgment affirmed.

The decision (which is available in full, here) comes after the court granted Emanuel a partial stay Tuesday and ordered his name be put back on all printed ballots. This is the latest, and final, chapter in a monthlong residency dispute over whether Emanuel met the state requirement for residing in Chicago for a year prior to the election.

When Emanuel originally filed his 2009 Illinois tax return, he indicated he was only a “part-year resident" of the state that year, but when he decided to return to Chicago last fall, he ammended the return.

During Emanuel’s 11-hour questioning on Dec. 14, he defended his residency status, saying the roughly 100 boxes of personal items in basement storage at his Ravenswood house is proof of his intent to return. The tenants of Emanuel's home, at 4228 N. Hermitage Ave., claimed the boxes don't exist, but photos proved otherwise and Hearing Officer Joseph Morris cleared his candidacy. 

The Chicago Board of Elections upheld the recommendation, and Cook County Circuit Judge Mark Ballard agreed, ruling earlier this month that Emanuel met residenct requirements. 

Challengers filed an appeal and in a surprise turn of events on Monday, the Illinois Appellate Court voted 2-1 to overturn the decision, booting him from the ballot.

Opponent Gery Chico, who publically said Emanuel should be allowed on the ballot celebrated the decision.

"Emanuel's residency drama has made this election into a circus instead of a serious debate about the future of Chicago," Chico said. "Now that the Supreme Court has made their decision, the residents will choose their next mayor based on the candidates' track records and their vision for Chicago. I remain the most qualified candidate to be the next mayor and take our city in a new direction. With less than 30 days to go until Election Day, there is no time to waste. Game on."

Lead opposition attorney Burt Odelson was less enthused.

"I feel good, as a lawyer, because we did win in the appellate court.  I think we should have won, but I respect the Supreme Court's decision.  It's the law of the land,We did everything we could, legally.  We quoted all the right cases."

Odelson was leaving for a Florida immediately afterward. Rahm Emanuel was out shaking hands at an 'El' stop. As commuters congratulated him on the win, he said it was a win for the people.

"As I said from the beginning voters have the right to make the choice," Emanuel said.

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