Can Rahm Emanuel bounce back?
Of all the pernicious things about Monday's appeals court ruling that threw Rahm Emanuel off the ballot in Chicago, among the worst was the timing: the day before city officials were to begin printing ballots, and a week before early voting will start. It seemed that Emanuel's mayoral run was done -- even if the Illinois Supreme Court put Emanuel back in the running, his name wouldn't appear on lots of printed ballots. Far smaller details have sunk candidates (butterfly ballot, anyone?).
But on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court ordered that, for now, no ballots may be printed without Emanuel's name on them. That's good: To do otherwise would have been exceptionally unfair. But now the Supreme Court needs to hear Emanuel's case, and soon. If it agrees with much of the commentary -- that the appeals court ruling was nonsensical on technical and on principled grounds -- but does so after voting begins, its mere delay could heavily bias the election.
Even if the Supreme Court reversed the appeals court's ruling immediately, staying on the ballot with a legitimate candidacy wouldn't be enough to repair the damage that all of this last-minute confusion has done to Emanuel's run. Some voters will surely end up seeing his name on the ballot and thinking that he's still ineligible. Others may already be reconsidering a pro-Emanuel vote out of renewed concern about his ties to Washington or his absence from the city. Still others might consider other candidates they once deemed unlikely winners with Emanuel in the race -- and stick with their new picks. Voters, of course, are free to change their minds. The process of influencing them, though, is a political one that the courts should avoid with extreme care -- of the sort the appeals court seems not to have exercised in the Emanuel case.
| January 25, 2011; 2:56 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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