End the duopoly

Only in Illinois: Wife of indicted political boss will hold highest judicial post in the state

What would appear to many Illinoisans as glaring conflicts of interest over the years have not appeared to raise red flags for the new chief justice.

Illinois Supreme Court Justices chose Anne Burke as their chief on Sept. 10. One could almost hear the gears turning on the Chicago machine, a hobbled but still functioning apparatus now in the sights of federal investigators.

Burke’s appointment to the highest judicial post in the state is a shameless act in a state sorely lacking trust in its government.

Anne Burke is an accomplished lawyer. She helped start the Special Olympics. These facts should not prevent criticism arising from her 50-plus year marriage to a 50-year Chicago political boss: Ed Burke.

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Anne’s husband is among the last of a dying breed. As a young Irish upstart in the Daley Democratic machine, Ed Burke married Anne in 1968. The next year, he was elected to his late father’s aldermanic seat on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

He would go on to become the Mike Madigan of City Council, amassing near-total power over what legislation passed and failed. And like Madigan, he cashed in on his political clout as a property tax attorney on the side. Burke controlled slating for Cook County judges as a Democratic Party don and wielded a patronage army out of City Hall.


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