Posts Tagged ‘judicial interpretation’
December 16th, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Rahm Emanuel’s Residency Problem Poses a Serious Question About the Rule of Law

It’s one of the ironies of modern judicial interpretation that textbooks and master theses masquerading as court opinions go to great lengths to unearth vague notions of ‘legislative intent’ in arcane statutes, but brush aside the plain meaning of rules like residency requirements to run for public office.  Which poses the question: do all the laws matter except those that apply to candidates  running for office?

For example, there is precious little required to run for Mayor of Chicago.  A candidate must be:

  • 18 years old
  • A registered voter
  • A resident of the city of Chicago
  • Without any debt, unpaid tax, lien or other obligation to the city of Chicago
  • Without a felony conviction or conviction for any infamous crime, bribery or perjury

Candidates must also produce a minimum of 12,500 signatures and file at the Board of Election Commissioners between November 15 and November 22, 2010.

Note that a candidate doesn’t have to be married, literate, employed, able to speak English, or competent to read a budget.  One presumes that the reasons for the requirements that are listed is to ensure that a person running to become the most powerful local official: 1) has reached the legal age to contract, 2) demonstrates a current political stake in the community, 3) isn’t running to dodge a public debt, and 4) hasn’t been convicted of criminal dishonesty.

If a candidate for mayor cannot meet these slight – but important – criteria, he doesn’t deserve to run.  Everyone knows that Rahm Emanuel has not been a resident of the city of Chicago for the last year because he was living in Washington, D.C. with his family while working at the White House.  If the requirement is to have any validity, Emanuel shouldn’t be allowed to run for mayor until he reestablishes his residency.  The rule of law and common sense demand it.