Breaking: Rahm Emanuel is Off the Mayoral Ballot (Update: the Decision and Some Analysis; and Now Video!)
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Wow, I am honestly impressed and surprised that any state court is willing to enforce election law:
The Illinois Appellate Court has tossed mayoral frontrunner Rahm Emanuel off the ballot, reversing the decision of a lower court.
The Appellate Court reached a 2-1 decision to remove Emanuel.
Appellate judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall ruled against Emanuel. Justice Bertina Lampkin voted in favor of keeping President Obama’s former chief of staff on the Feb. 22 ballot.
Read the whole thing. I will let you know when and if I get access to the decision. Further the story indicates that the state supreme court can step in. But, bluntly, unless they stay the proceedings immediately, I think this could significantly hobble his election campaign, so that even this ruling is reversed, he still might be so damaged by it, he loses the election.
Update: Having read the decision, here’s a few thoughts on it.
There are basically two issues before the court. The first is the meaning of “residency” for the purpose of being a candidate. As I have noted before, in the law there is a concept called domicile. Basically, the concept isn’t just where you lay your head down at night, but where intend to you lay your head down permanently. And intent controls, allowing a person to claim to have a domicile in a place for years without actually being present in that jurisdiction, as long as you intend to come back and live there permanently. And very often the term “residence” and “domicile” are read identically.
But right off the bat, the court credibility points out that the state supreme court does not, citing Pope v. Board of Election Commissioners, a 1938 decision, where the court said “it is elemental that domicile and residence are not synonymous.”
But there is only one problem with that: when it comes to the qualifications of electors (voters), the terms are treated as exactly synonymous.
But, the court says, it is is different when we are talking about candidates for office and one of the things the court looks to is the purpose of the statue, saying, the purpose of this statute is obviously to make it so that mayoral candidates actually have contact with the people they propose to serve. I don’t deny that this is an ideal we should pursue, but I am reluctant to warp the language of the statute for it.
Now, there is also language of being on the “business of the United States.” The statute says at one point
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 interprets this again to apply only to electors, not to candidates for office. I find that part reasonably enough—they could have easily broadened the language to apply to candidates for office—but I am still dubious of the initial claim that residency is defined differently for electors (voters) and candidates. I think if the law made a clear distinction in the language, it would be easier to defend.
Update (III): Video!
Also, contrary to Rahm’s implication, they took as a given that he was off on the nation’s business. The court merely said that this exception does not apply to residency requirement for candidates. Which I agree with.
I will add that any liberal complaining that this is a political decision but being hunky-dory with Roe v. Wade is a complete hypocrite. If judicial activists can set policy without sanction of law, by what principle is it wrong for them to pick our leaders, too?
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]