Illinois' highest court agreed Tuesday to decide whether Rahm Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor, and justices ordered election officials not to print any ballots without his name until they rule on the case.
The action bought valuable time for the former White House chief of staff, who a day earlier was kicked off the ballot by an appeals court. The state Supreme Court said it would expedite the matter but gave no specific time frame.
With less than a week to go before the first early ballots are cast, a number of potential scenarios loomed, including the possibility that Emanuel would have to resort to a write-in campaign or wage a desperate bid to take the matter to federal court.
Emanuel, who had been the heavy favorite to lead the nation's third-largest city, pressed ahead with confidence and said he was doubling his campaign by adding more stops to his already busy schedule.
"I am clear that I think that we will succeed because of the thoroughness of our argument," he said Tuesday at an event where he received an endorsement from the Teamsters. He said he was "more determined to see this through so the people have a right to make the choice for themselves."
Emanuel asked the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court ruling, which pulled his name off the ballot because he did not live in Chicago for a year before the Feb. 22 election.
Until October, the former Chicago congressman had been living in Washington working for President Obama.
The high court was to review legal briefs and would not hold oral arguments, a sign the justices want to decide the case quickly.
Chicago election officials said they had printed nearly 300,000 ballots without Emanuel's name before they abruptly stopped. The Board of Elections had hurriedly authorized the printing after Monday's appellate ruling.
If the Supreme Court does not put Emanuel back on the ballot, he could consider a write-in campaign. He would have to declare himself a write-in candidate by Feb. 15.
But on Monday, Emanuel declined to say whether he would entertain such a drastic step.
He also refused to say whether he would consider other legal remedies, such as finding a way to get his case into the federal courts, possibly all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But Dawn Clark Netsch, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University's law school, said there was little chance the matter could make the leap to federal court. "In my judgment there is no significant federal constitutional issue," she said.