Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Supreme Court takes Emanuel appeal; decision on the merits can come at any time?

Here is the text of the Order entered earlier this afternoon by the Illinois Supreme Court in the Maksym case:
The emergency motion by petitioner Rahm Emanuel to expedite consideration of the petition for leave to appeal is allowed. The petition for leave to appeal is allowed. This Court is taking the case on the briefs filed by the parties in the appellate court. No additional briefs will be filed in the Supreme Court. Oral argument will not be entertained.
The key sentence here, I believe, is that, "This Court is taking the briefs filed by the parties in the appellate court."

The attorneys for the parties may be somewhat relieved at this: It is difficult enough to craft a persuasive appellate brief; attempting to craft one under the extraordinary time pressures necessitated by the fixed dates for the upcoming primary election would be extraordinarily stressful.

On the other hand, this one sentence suggests that the Supreme Court is comfortable that it has all it needs to issue a decision -- and because it is not taking any additional briefs, chances are that a decision may be forthcoming soon.

The probability that a decision will be issued very soon, without additional briefs or argument, only means that the Court has a clear idea of where it wants to go. It does not tell us which way it will go -- or, even, whether the justices are all agreed on what the outcome should be.

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