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Its The Chicago Way

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Illinois Supreme Court selects chief justice married to indicted Chicago Alderman at center of huge federal probe into political corruption

Thomas Lifson

Sept. 12 2019

 There is jaw-dropping indifference to the appearance of corruption in Springfield, Illinois.  It's hard to figure out what was on the minds of the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court when they chose Anne Burke to be chief justice for the next three years.  Illinois voters elect their supreme court justices to ten-year terms on partisan ballots.  Once elected, justices face a yes-or-no vote every ten years, so maybe they feel so secure in their state's deep blue status that they can flaunt the appearance of corruption with no consequences.  But for anyone concerned about the legitimacy the court enjoys in the public mind, it is an odd choice of leadership.  Illinois Policy explains why:


As Chicago's longest serving alderman faces prison time, his spouse will become the state's most powerful judge.

The state's high court justices on Sept. 10 elected Justice Anne Burke to chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, succeeding former Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier. (snip)

Burke's rise to chief justice comes while her husband, 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, faces a 14-count indictment on federal corruption charges. In January, federal prosecutors accused the alderman of attempting to extort the owners of a Burger King franchise in his ward by withholding a remodeling permit in order to pressure them to hire his private law firm to handle their property tax appeals.

Ald. Burke stepped down from his private law practice in August, after City Council voted unanimously to approve Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's ethics reform package, which included stricter restrictions on local leaders engaging in conflicts of interest.


Mike Madigan, speaker of the state house of representatives is widely regarded as the political boss of Illinois, more consequential than the governor. His daughter Lisa was attorne general but declined to run for re-election. As of yesterday, she was hired by Kirkland & Ellis, where she will be handling their cases with the City of Chicago.  [This paragraph weas corrected and subtatially expanded thanks to information from a reader.

Illinois-style politics keeps it all in the family.

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