Anne M. Burke
Anne M. Burke

SPRINGFIELD — Justice Anne M. Burke was selected to become the next chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Chicago Democrat will step into her role on Oct. 26. She will be the third woman to serve in the position.

Burke was first appointed to the high court in 2006, then won election in 2008 as the unopposed Democratic candidate. Cook County voters retained her for a second term last November.

Before joining the Supreme Court, Burke sat on the 1st District Appellate Court bench for 11 years. She’ll be the first chief justice from Cook County in nine years.

Her courtroom career began much earlier, when she was appointed by former Gov. James R. Thompson to the Illinois Court of Claims in 1987.

She served as special counsel for child welfare services under former Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration.

In her 20s, Burke was a physical education teacher for the Chicago Park District on the South Side, leading programs for people with intellectual disabilities. In 1968, with the financial and political backing from Eunice Kennedy Shriver, she organized and ran the first-ever Special Olympics at Soldier Field.

That same year, she married 14th Ward Ald. Edward M. Burke who now faces federal criminal charges of attempted extortion. He has pleaded not guilty.

The judge has not been implicated in the federal government’s case against her husband. FBI agents raided the powerful alderman’s offices last November while he was attending the swearing-in ceremony for Justice Burke’s new 10-year term.

The Illinois Constitution sets the term limit for chief justices at three years. Burke will assume her new position next month and will hold it until 2022.

The current chief justice, Lloyd A. Karmeier, will continue to serve on the high court.