Who sits on Illinois Supreme Court?

January 26, 2011 4:41:38 AM PST
The Illinois Supreme Court justices who will decide whether Rahm Emanuel can run for mayor of Chicago are elected to their posts. Some of them have long-standing ties to political organizations.

Members of the high court include four Democrats and three Republicans. They come from all geographic regions of the state. Their decision on Emanuel's residency could not only greatly influence the Chicago mayoral race, but it could have ramifications long into the future.

"We election attorneys will be citing this case for years and years to come," said Adam Lasker, election attorney

Lasker, who heads the Chicago Bar Association's election law committee, says the court has always done a good job of keeping politics out of its decisions.

That's something Kent Law School Dean Harold Krent says they are taught early on.

"All the students are taught in law school that judicial craft should not contemplate politics, politics should not play a role in the decision-making process," said Krent.

Justice Anne Burke, a 1983 graduate of the Kent Law School, is married to powerful South Side alderman, Ed Burke. He iis a prominent supporter and longtime friend of Rahm Emanuel's opponent, Gery Chico.

Despite some suggestions of a possible conflict of interest,Justice Burke has not recused herself from the case nor have Emanuel's attorneys filed a motion requesting that she do so.

"She doesn't have to legally recuse herself. There's no financial interest for her," said Krent.

The other justices include two other Chicagoans, Mary Jane Theis and Charles Freeman. Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride is from the Quad cities and Rita Garman is from Danville. Lloyd Karmeier is from downstate Nashville and former Bears kicker Bob Thomas is from DuPage County.

With early voting scheduled to begin in just six days, the judges are under the gun.

"No matter what happens, it's going to be a legal precedent because this is a fact pattern unlike any I am aware of that has ever been decided by the courts," said Lesker.

Most legal experts assume the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling will be the final word on this issue. It is possible the losing side could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But legal experts say it's extremely unlikely they would get involved in state law by hearing the case.