Rahm Emanuel Got Screwed

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An appelate court has ruled that President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago because he did not meet the residency requirements. Emanuel was leading in the polls (and fundraising), but all that could be for naught unless the Illinois Supreme Court reverses the rulling (PDF).

The crux of the arguement against Emanuel appears to be this:

An attorney for two voters objecting to Emanuel’s candidacy argued again last week that the Democrat doesn’t meet the one-year residency requirement because he rented out his Chicago home and moved his family to Washington to work for President Barack Obama for nearly two years.

“If the house had not been abandoned by the whole family … we wouldn’t be here today,” attorney Burt Odelson told the panel of judges, all three Democrats.

In the discenting opionion (from the PDF) Justice Lampkin gets to the heart of the matter. Emanuel never abandoned his Chicago residency.

The majority acknowledges that the candidate had established a residency in Chicago long before 2009 where he had both a physical presence here and the intent to remain. The majority failed, however, to move past the issue of establishing residency to the relevant analysis, which turns on whether the candidate’s residency, which he had indisputably held, was abandoned when he worked in Washington, D.C., and leased his Chicago home.

The Board’s ruling-that the candidate in 2009 and 2010 did not abandon his status as a resident of Chicago and, thus, remained a resident of Chicago even though he was largely absent from this city from January 2009 until October 1, 2010-was not clearly erroneous. Intent is an issue of fact (Delk, 112 Ill. App. 3d at 738), and the majority acknowledges that the Board’s fact findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. This acknowledgment should have ended this case, and resulted in this court affirming the circuit court’s judgment, which confirmed the Board’s ruling that the preponderance of the evidence established that the candidate never formed an intent to either change or terminate his residence in Chicago, or establish his residence in Washington, D.C., or any place other than Chicago.

Because the candidate had established his Chicago residency, it is presumed to continue until the contrary is shown, and the burden of proof is on the person who claims that there has been a change.

He details some of the specific facts – which are not at issue:

According to the record, the candidate testified that he intended to work in Washington, D.C., for no more than two years. Consistent with that intent, he leased his Chicago home on a shortterm basis. Although he and his wife were initially reluctant to lease their Chicago home, they heeded the advice of their friend and real estate consultant to lease the home during their absence for safety purposes. The candidate’s intent to work in Washington, D.C., for the limited time frame and then return to his home in Chicago was confirmed by the testimony of three personal friends.

The candidate initially rented an apartment in Washington, D.C., but later rented a home when his family joined him during the summer of 2009. The lease terms of both his Chicago residence and the Washington, D.C., home coincided with the school year of the candidate’s children in order to provide the least disruption possible to their education. Prior to the family’s move to Washington, D.C., the candidate’s wife and her friends filled 100 boxes with belongings that were then left in a locked storage area in the basement of the Chicago home. The candidate described the stored items as the family’s most valuable possessions, including his wife’s wedding gown, heirloom china, family photograph albums, an heirloom coat brought by the candidate’s grandfather when he immigrated to the United States, the clothes and birth outfits of the candidate’s children, and their school projects and report cards. Additionally, the candidate’s family returned to Chicago two or three times for physician’s appointments and celebratory gatherings. The candidate’s wife maintained contact with the lessees of the Chicago home in order to facilitate repairs within the home and to schedule three or four occasions for the piano of the candidate’s family to be tuned in their absence.

Furthermore, the candidate never voted in Washington, D.C., never changed his driver’s license to Washington, D.C., never registered his car in Washington, D.C., never purchased property in Washington, D.C., never conducted personal banking in Washington, D.C., and never demonstrated an intent to sell his Chicago home. The challengers failed to counter the candidate’s evidence, and the Board found that the weight of this evidence established that the candidate intended to maintain his residence in Chicago throughout the time of his temporary employment in Washington, D.C.

Emanuel’s residence in DC very much resembles that of members of Congress, which shouldn’t be a suprise as he was previously a Congressman from his district.

And finally the disenting judge shows that the majority is legislating on the fly, to the detriment of Emanual.

The majority attempts to support its creation of a completely new candidate residency standard with an exhaustive (or, rather, exhausting discussion of section 3.1-10-5(d) of the Municipal Code regarding the military exception. The candidate here was not in the military and did not attempt to claim an exemption under section 3.1-10-5(d). Nevertheless, while the majority spends five pages of its opinion on a subsection of the Municipal Code that has no applicability to the present case, the majority does not write a single sentence explaining how it defines “actually resided in.”

It is patently clear that the majority fails to even attempt to define its newly discovered standard because it is a figment of the majority’s imagination. How many days may a person stay away from his home before the majority would decide he no longer “actually resides” in it? Would the majority have us pick a number out of a hat? A standard which cannot be defined cannot be applied. If the majority had picked even an arbitrary number of days that voters need not sleep in their own beds before they violated this new arbitrary standard, then at least we would be able to apply this new standard. Should a court consider just the number of days a voter or candidate is absent or are there other relevant factors under the new standard?

Apparently, only the majority knows but, for some reason, fails to share it with those charged to abide by it if they want to be a candidate for municipal office.

The majority’s promulgation of a new undefined standard cuts off the various boards of elections and circuit courts of this State from over 100 years of precedent. Clearly, the majority must posit the existence of a new standard in order to avoid the application of the manifest weight standard to the Board’s fact findings and application of the clearly erroneous standard to the Board’s ruling that the candidate did not intend to abandon his residence. The majority says, as it must, that it accepts the Board’s findings of fact. Therefore the majority must fault the Board for failing to apply as the correct legal principle of candidate residency a standard that the majority just conjured out of thin air.

Emanuel may be loathsome to many on the right, but in this case he got a healthy dose of Chicago-style politics thrown at him by those in his own party – three Democratic judges. Regardless of one’s personal feelings about Emanuel, a full read of the ruling makes it pretty clear that he got screwed.

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Via Hot Air and RCP, here’s press conference coverage:

...And It Got My Weight Wrong, Too!
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