The Illinois Supreme Court tonight ruled unanimously that Rahm Emanuel is eligible to run for mayor of Chicago, ending two months of legal drama over whether the former White House chief of staff met the city's residency requirements.
The decision delivered a huge victory to Emanuel and his supporters and a blunt rebuke to a lower court that earlier this week ordered Emanuel off the ballot. The court challenge was by far the biggest threat to Emanuel, the race's runaway front-runner both in the polls and fundraising.
At issue in the case: Whether Emanuel forfeited his Chicago residency by renting out his family home while he was working in Washington as President Obama's chief of staff. Chicago law requires candidates for mayor to have lived in the city for at least one year prior to the election.
The court's majority ruling overturned an earlier decision by a divided appeals court that found Emanuel ineligible to run. Two other legal bodies, the Chicago Board of Elections and a lower court, had previously found in his favor. The state Supreme Court said the appellate ruling against Emanuel ignored 150-year-old settled legal principles that "control this case, plain and simple."
Five of the seven justices joined a majority opinion that called large portions of the appeals court's logic "obviously incorrect." Two other two justices, including the wife of one of Emanuel's political foes, concurred in the ruling, but on narrower grounds. The two concurring justices also went out of their way to protest insinuations that the appeals court ruling against Emanuel was politically motivated.
Emanuel staffers and lawyers were in a celebratory mood in the wake of the announcement. "We're obviously very pleased with the decision," said his attorney Kevin Forde. "The court said what we've been arguing all along at every level: That this issue has been settled in Illinois for 150 years."
Kevin Brennan contributed. contributed to this article.