Carol Felsenthal
On politics

A Potential Conflict of Interest in the Rahm Residency Case?

Rahm Emanuel’s residency challenge is heating up, and it will likely end up in the Illinois Supreme Court. Sitting on that top court is Justice Anne Burke, who is married to Ald. Ed Burke, a City Council heavyweight as chairman of the finance committee. Although he has not yet issued the endorsement, the 14th Ward alderman gives every signal of supporting one of Rahm’s serious challengers, Gery Chico…


Rahm Emanuel’s residency case could make its way up to the Illinois Supreme Court, to be heard by Justice Anne Burke (center), wife of Chicago Alderman Edward Burke (right).

 

Rahm Emanuel’s residency challenge is heating up, and it will likely end up in the Illinois Supreme Court. “I can’t see either side losing and walking away from it,” says Sam Tenenbaum, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law whose specialty is civil litigation.

Sitting on that top court is Justice Anne Burke, who is married to Ald. Ed Burke, a City Council heavyweight as chairman of the finance committee. Although he has not yet issued the endorsement, the 14th Ward alderman gives every signal of supporting one of Rahm’s serious challengers, Gery Chico. “Detest” is a word that I’ve heard used by political observers to describe Burke’s feelings toward Emanuel. In her latest column, the Sun-Times’ Carol Marin wrote, “Everybody knows Burke cannot stand Rahm Emanuel.”

Just as Tom Dart leaving the race was the best possible news for Rahm Emanuel; Emanuel getting knocked off the ballot would be a gift from the heavens for Gery Chico—and Ald. Burke.

So I wondered, if (or when) this case reaches the state Supreme Court, will his Supreme Court justice wife have to recuse herself? Both Tenenbaum and Jeffrey M. Shaman, a professor at DePaul University College of Law and an expert on judicial ethics, said that there is no legal reason for Justice Burke to recuse herself. In separate interviews, they each noted that what might have been expected one or two generations ago is not expected today when so many couples have dual, independent careers. 

If Ald. Burke were a party to the suit, or were himself among the candidates for mayor—for a brief time, he did toy with the idea of running—then, says Tenenbaum, Justice Burke would be wise to recuse herself. Professor Shaman notes, “So many women have entered the legal profession as attorneys and judges. The trend is not holding judges responsible for spouses’ actions because we recognize that spouses are independent persons and actors who have rights of their own. If we did [hold judges responsible for their spouses’ actions], an awful lot of judges would have to be disqualified.”

So does the residency challenge have legs? Tenenbaum thinks it does, and calls it  “pretty serious, not frivolous. I don’t know if [Emanuel] intended to move back here. Had Daley run again, would he have stepped down from the chief of staff position and taken a job outside of Chicago?” He adds, “I think it’s a real serious issue, just ask cops and firemen what residency means.”

A call to Ald. Burke via his press secretary was not returned by post time.

 

Photography: (Emanuel) Esther Kang; (Burkes) Chicago Tribune

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4 years ago
Posted by ucr0110

While 'tis the season for professor Tenenbaum I really think he should check some facts about residency for fire and police before he uses them as an example.
A police officer taking a leave of absence to work for another department or a special law enforcement project outside of Chicago does no lose his/her residency even if they rent out or sublet their residence.
If they maintains their voting residency, just as anyone else who leaves the city temporarily, they are still residents. Even though they are living outside of Chicago.
As I remember Ron Huberman did it when he was a cop. The chief of detectives went to LA as a police official for some time and returned to Chicago as a police officer without resdency problems.

4 years ago
Posted by Honest John

Everyone, except Mayor Daley and Rahm, forget Mayor Daley private residency law will come back and bite them. I assure you, Rahm will not last and if he does, many former City of Chicago employees will file a massive lawsuit that will bankrupt the city. I saw many city employees on Chicago clout ready to collect. I would also think you could provide fair pictures that do not show the Burke's in such a bad light and your guy in a thoughtful pose. We know it when we see it.

4 years ago
Posted by ritchie

This is all a matter of sour grapes. I hope Emanual stands his ground.

4 years ago
Posted by Ray Hanania

I wouldn't think that Ald. Burke's view would directly impact Anne Burke ... as much as I dislike Rahm Emanuel -- he dislikes Arabs anbd won't do interviews with them (me especially) -- I think Rahm can withstand a residency challenge. The fact is Sen Meek's attorney Burt Odelson, who is leading the more serious challenge, could just as easily defend Rahm Emanuel and Odelson has and does argue both sides of election board issues ... so I think this does come down to intent. Why should Emanuel be published for serving Chicago and his country in Washington DC ... the bigger issue is the challenge from Halpin ... what kind of hatred motivates someone to run for mayor of Chicago just to spite someone else? Pathetic mess but fascinating story. Not unusual in Chicago's mud-packed gutters.
Ray Hanania
www.RadioChicagoland.com

4 years ago
Posted by SKEPTICAL

I think Rahm survives the residency challenge too in a fair world. Is this a fair world? Can we depend on the Illinois Surpeme Court to seek to do justice or to be political? Is it so far-fetched that they would decide the case in a political manner? Hasn't the U.S. Supreme Court shown them the way?

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