Rahm can run: IL Supreme Court reverses ruling

January 27, 2011 8:33:28 PM PST
Rahm Emanuel is a Chicago resident and can run for mayor in the February election, according to Illinois' highest court.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Emanuel qualifies as a Chicago resident even though he spent the last year in Washington, D.C., working as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

Emanuel was out campaigning when he heard the news. He said, "I immediately called my wife. I also called my parents and I took a call from the president of the United States."

In its unanimous decision the high court said that the fundamental question was "...whether Emanuel...had abandoned his Illinois residency." And the justices concluded he did not.

"I'm happy that after all this effort we now have a conclusion so that voters can make the decision on who'll be the mayor and they will now make the decision which is where this choice has always existed," Emanuel said. VIDEO: Voters react to ruling

According to a Municipal Code, a mayoral candidate must "reside in" Chicago for a year prior to the election date. At issue was the definition of "reside in" as critics said Emanuel's time in D.C. disqualified him.

Page 21 of the 24-page Illinois Supreme Court ruling, which uses "Board" to refer to the Chicago Board of Elections, reads: "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." Read the full IL Supreme Court order

Emanuel's residency has been an issue since his intention to run was first acknowledged. He took the stand in a several day hearing in front the Chicago Board of Elections, which recommended he was qualified to run. The Circuit Court upheld the election board's opinion, but the Illinois Court of Appeals overturned on Monday. Emanuel then went to the High Court.

The residency issues and ensuing court battles led to the re-formatting of ballots -- which were printed with and without Emanuel's name -- in the February 22 election. On Tuesday, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered Emanuel's name back on the ballot until a ruling was handed down, the presses were stopped, 300,000 ballots without his name were tossed -- and his name was added once again.