Justice Burke Rejects Call for Recusal

Adding to the drama in Rahm Emanuel's ongoing residency challenge is the fact that one of Illinois' Supreme Court Justices, Anne Burke, is married to Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, a staunch supporter of one of Emanuel's opponents.

But Anne Burke emphasized Wednesday that she's an independent thinker and rejected the notion that she should recuse herself.

"Aren’t we beyond that?  Women have minds of their own," she said during an interview with Crain's Chicago Business.

Burke's ties to Gery Chico date back years.  Chico once worked for him, and in 2007, Chico's law firm ponied up $4,000 for an Anne Burke fundraiser, records show.  That same day, Chico also gave Burke a $5,000 donation.

It's a relationship that concerns mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle.

"In order to ensure that there’s no doubt left in the voters minds about the final decision. It is important that she recuse herself," he said.

Chico spokeswoman Brooke Anderson defended the donation.

"If you’re suggesting that Justice Burke's judgement might be clouded from a donation four years ago, then that same logic would also raise even bigger questions about the fact that [Rahm Emanuel attorney Michael Kasper] is also the election attorney for another Supreme Court Justice, Justice [Thomas] Kilbride," said Anderson.

Dean Harold Krent of Chicago-Kent College of Law said questions would not be raised about Justice Burke if Illinois did not elect its judges. 

"We were all taught form an early age that judging is separate from politics. Nobody believes that... The fact that we have to second-guess the justices, their husbands, their wives, their campaign contributions just really mean that we need to rethink our system here in Illinois," he said.

Krent pointed out that Justice Burke ran unopposed when she accepted Chico's donation.

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