Illinois Supreme Court Unanimously Returns Rahm Emanuel to Ballot
In a unanimous, 7-0 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court said that Rahm Emanuel will appear on the February 22 ballot for Mayor of Chicago. This overturns a previous ruling from a state appeals court. The ruling can be found here. The court stated that the residency analysis by the appellate court was “fundamentally flawed”:
The issue in this case is whether the candidate met the statutory requirements to run for and hold elected municipal office, as set forth in section 3.1–10–5(a) of the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/3.1–10–5(a) (2008)). That section states, in relevant part: “A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment ***.” 65 ILCS 5/3.1–10–5(a)
As Smith demonstrates, this court very early on announced the principles that would inform residency analysis in the context of eligibility to hold public office. And since Smith, this court has consistently applied similar residency principles in a variety of other contexts, most especially in the context of voting. From these cases, several well-settled principles emerge. First, to establish residency, two elements are required: (1) physical presence, and (2) an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Hughes v. Illinois Public Aid Comm’n, 2 Ill. 2d 374, 380 (1954) (citing voting cases). Second, once residency is established, the test is no longer physical presence but rather abandonment. Indeed, once a person has established residence, he or she can be physically absent from that residence for months or even years without having abandoned it.
The fact that Emanuel maintained a home in Chicago, continued voting as a Chicago voter and expressed his intent to return was enough for the Supreme Court, in this case.
Two justices did concur with the ruling, but said that the issues “in no way as clear-cut as the majority makes it out to be.” Here’s their precis:
Because of the breadth of today’s decision, we do not join the majority’s holding that residency is the equivalent of domicile and that intent, therefore determines residency, even in the absence of any physical presence. Rather, we would answer the narrow question that was actually raised by the objectors in this case: Does a person lose his permanent abode if the adobe is rented during the relevant residency period? To that question we answer “no.” For that reason alone, we join in the judgment of the majority.
But that has little bearing on the final result. Rahm Emanuel will be a candidate for mayor.