Edward Burke, a powerful city council member who is backing Gery Chico in the mayoral race, is married to state Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, prompting questions about whether she should recuse herself. Alderman Burke did not return a phone call, and a court spokeswoman did not respond to a request to speak with Justice Burke.
Kevin Forde, one of Emanuel's lawyers, said in an interview that the team will not seek Burke's recusal. If the court rules against Emanuel, Forde said, "we have very little recourse in the Illinois court system at that point. We'll be having to figure out what else to do."
Emanuel and his lawyers argue that his work for the president fits a government-service exemption to the residency rule. Moreover, in their brief, the lawyers argued that the new residency standard is so "opaque" as to cast "substantial doubt" on the potential candidacies of anyone from Illinois lawmakers spending time in the capital, Springfield, to Obama himself.
"Certainly President Obama does not meet the standard adopted by the two Justices, because he does not 'actually reside' in Chicago," the brief says.
Emanuel aides confirmed the Monday phone conversation but declined to say what the two men discussed. But the president could certainly relate to the situation.
After all, Obama is a veteran of the city's bare-knuckled ballot battles. He maneuvered in his own 1996 campaign for a state Senate seat to oust a popular opponent.
Alice Palmer, who was a longtime community activist and respected incumbent, had decided late to seek reelection - after Obama had made his bid. His campaign raised technical challenges to the petition signatures Palmer submitted in order to appear on the ballot.
Obama later told the Chicago Tribune that "we were just abiding by the rules that had been set up" and that he felt "if you couldn't run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be."
Palmer, reached on her cellphone Tuesday, declined to discuss the episode. But she added: "Knocking people off the ballot is a Chicago tradition."