The Illinois Supreme Court today reversed the decision (below) of the appellate court and reinstated former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the mayoral ballot in Chicago. As discussed earlier, the Supreme Court hit on the burden in overturning a factual finding of the lower court.
The court found that the appellate court did not establish that the finding of fact was clearly erroneous: “Given the record before us, it is simply not possible to find clearly erroneous the (Chicago Board of Elections’) determination that the objectors failed to prove that the candidate had abandoned his Chicago residence . . . We therefore reverse the decision of the appellate court and affirm the decision of the circuit court, which confirmed the Board’s decision.”
This effectively ends the matter since this is a ruling on state law. The United States Supreme Court generally defers such questions to the highest court of the state. The decision puts the burden on those challenging residency of a candidate — requiring a clear finding of intent by the candidate. It also armor-plates the decision of the election board in such matters.
The ruling turns on the standard for review, but also reaffirms the sole dissenter on the appellate court, Judge Bertina Lampkin, when she noted a long list of factors indicating an intent to return.
The Court dismisses the analysis of the appellate court, stating “its reasons for departing from over 100 years of settled residency law are hardly compelling and deserve only brief attention.”
The Court lays out the standard for this and future cases:
So where does all of this leave us? It leaves us convinced that, when determining whether a candidate for public office has “resided in” the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, the principles that govern are identical to those embodied in Smith and consistently applied in the context of determining whether a voter has “resided in” this state and in the election district 30 days next preceding any election. Thus, in assessing whether the candidate has established residency, the two required elements are: (1) physical presence, and (2) an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Once residency is established, the test is no longer physical presence but rather abandonment, the presumption is that residency continues, and the burden of proof is on the contesting party to show that residency has been abandoned. Both the establishment and abandonment of a residence is largely a question of intent, and while intent is shown primarily from a candidate’s acts, a candidate is absolutely competent to testify as to his intention, though such testimony is not necessarily conclusive.
The Court added its own view of the most compelling facts:
This is a situation in which, not only did the candidate testify that his intent was not to abandon his Chicago residence, his acts fully support and confirm that intent. The candidate told severalfriends that he intended to serve as Chief of Staff for no more than 18 months or two years before returning to Chicago. The candidate has continued to own and pay property taxes on the Chicago residence while only renting in Washington, D.C. As set forth above, the ending dates for the Woodley House lease and the Hermitage House lease were identical and coincided with the end of the school year of the candidate’s children. This supports an inference that the candidate intended to move back into the Hermitage House when the Woodley House lease ended. The candidate has continuously maintained an Illinois driver’s license setting forth the Hermitage House as his address and has never obtained a Washington, D.C., driver’s license. The candidate has continued to register his car at the Hermitage House address. The candidate registered to vote from the Hermitage House address in 1999 and has continuously voted from that address in every election through February 2010. Up and through 2010, the candidate did his banking in Chicago and had the Hermitage House address printed on his personal checks. The candidate left many personal items in the Hermitage House, including his bed, two televisions, a stereo system, a piano, and over 100 boxes of personal possessions. Although the candidate paid income taxes to the government of the District of Columbia, the candidate continued to pay state income tax in Illinois.
Here is the decision: Emanuel decision