Rahm Emanuel court case: As usual in Chicago politics, the plot thickens
Chicago awaits Illinois Supreme Court ruling on whether Rahm Emanuel can be on the mayoral ballot, amid questions about the justices' political leanings and how they win their seats.
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“For all judges, there is a strong likelihood that once you are slated by the political organization, you will become a judge. Does that political influence find its way into decisions? … We may never know,” Malcolm Rich, executive director of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune.Skip to next paragraph
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Complicating matters is that Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke is married to Chicago Alderman Edward Burke, the most powerful force on the Chicago City Council and the head of the local Democratic Party’s judicial slating committee. Mr. Burke has been a vocal critic of Emanuel and backs one of his rivals, Gery Chico, a former chief of staff to current Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Justice Burke has not said whether she will recuse herself in Emanuel's appeal, nor has Emanuel’s legal team asked her to. In remarks at a fundraiser Wednesday, she reframed the issue as one having to do with women’s rights.
“Aren’t we beyond that? Women have minds of their own. We have spouses in every kind of business,” she said, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
Many longtime political figures here dismiss allegations that Burke would let outside influences affect her ruling. Mr. Robling called her “a seasoned jurist who brings to her opinions a command of the facts and wisdom about the law. She will call this as she sees it.”
If the high court rules against Emanuel, his side can use Burke's participation to attack the decision, says Washington election lawyer Chris Ashby. The Burke connection “is more about the politics of it,” he says. “Someone is laying down a marker so that if [Justice Burke] decides against Emanuel, they have grounds to cast doubt on the validity and impartiality of her decision. If you don’t lay down that marker ahead of time, it will look like sour grapes if they play that card later.”
The court's decision can come as early as Friday. Early voting starts Monday, and the election is three weeks later, on Feb. 22.