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Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot

Good news for Democrats in Texas: a federal judge has ruled Tom DeLay must stay on the ballot, even though he isn't running for Congress.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, a Republican appointee, ruled that DeLay must appear on the Nov. 7 ballot as the GOP nominee for the congressional seat that DeLay abandoned last month. Sparks ruling was confirmed by Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Amber Moon.

Republicans will now appeal to the 5th Circuit.

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  • Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:42:39 AM EST
    ha ha ha. but what are the chances the 5th circuit won't let him off the hook? slim to none, i'd say.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:21:22 AM EST
    What happens if he wins??

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#3)
    by legion on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:37:30 AM EST
    Interesting question, Canuck. If he's convicted & in jail before the next Congress takes their seats, I don't think he can actually hold office. In which case (I think) the TX Gov gets to nominate someone to sit Delay's term (in Congress, that is, not jail :-) But if a conviction renders him unable to serve before the actual election, does the GOP even get a candidate to pu on the ballot?

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#4)
    by swingvote on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 12:02:54 PM EST
    This ruling is an argument for some continuity in our election laws nation wide. In New Jersey, we found that you can change candidates, even after the clearly stated deadline for doing so, just because you think your candidate will lose. Now, in Texas, we find that even when the candidate himself chooses to step down, he can't, even though the election is months away. Something is wrong there.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#5)
    by Patrick on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 12:09:21 PM EST
    Why is that good news? I must be missing something.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 12:20:55 PM EST
    JustPaul has a good point. I'll need to check out the holding in the case, but from a standpoint of fairness, all parties deserve a fair shake electorally. Ignoring other variables (redistricting, election "eccentricities"), in principle, if a candidate dies/goes to jail/etc, shouldn't their party should be allowed to field an alternate candidate? I'm curious if there are thoughtful rebuttals to this line of thinking...

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#7)
    by BigTex on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 12:56:52 PM EST
    If Delay stays on the ballot and wins, all that he has to do is tell the governor that he will resign his post again. It's a non issue as far as who will actually represent the district, this is purely procedural.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:12:53 PM EST
    Ok, the opinion's been posted. The sum and substance of the opinion is that (1) the Constitution sets the qualifications for House members, and (2) no State or anyone else can add to, subtract from, or otherwise modify them. Lots of precedent backing up both these points. The qualifications - 25 years old, at least 7 years a citizen of the US, inhabitant of the state on date of election. Period. The judge goes into some detail about how the Framers considered having requirements of residing in the state for a certain time prior to becoming eligible, but explicitly rejected them. About page 10 or 15, the judge also found some precedent from 1808 indicating someone who had moved to Maryland 2 weeks prior to the election was deemed eligible to be elected to the House. Now, if DeLay is in prison as of the election date or the swearing-in he still could be elected, because the Constitution says nothing about incarceration or criminal charges. And, you could see the potential for mischief with politically motiviated prosecutions. (In a different context, 30 or 40 years ago, there was a mayor in New Jersey who was elected and ran his city from a prison cell, but that's a state law issue) Whether the House votes to accept him ("each house shall determine the qualifications of its own members" is a purely political question - Powell v. MacCormack), but even in the case he was rejected I do not think a replacement could be named unless he were to resign. But, it remains - he won the primary, therefore he's on the ballot. Period. The Judge concluded with a few trenchant quotes:
    "Political acumen, strategy, and manufactured evidence, even combined with a sound policy in mind, cannot override the Constitution. "The Constitution 'nullifies sophisticated as well as simple-minded modes' of infringing upon Constitutional protections."
    That's about it - DeLay tried to manufacture evidence to get around the Constitution, and he got called on it by a hand-picked Republican judge.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#9)
    by teacherken on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:13:41 PM EST
    Hey Legion a governor can NEVER appoint a house member. Any vacancy must be filled by direct election. You don't necessary have to have a party primary, but you do have to have an election. Governors being able to fill temporarily Senate vacancies is an artifcat of when Senators were elected by the legislature, which might not be in session when the vacancy occurred. Just thought you might want to know.

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#10)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:15:31 PM EST
    justpaul - the NJ case to which you refer was decided in the State Courts on the basis of NJ Election law, and the Republicans didn't think to go to federal court (or at least didn't go there successfully).

    Re: Judge Rules DeLay Must Stay on Texas Ballot (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 07:50:29 AM EST
    Scribe, My point was that the state laws obviously differ, and that perhaps they should not in this regard, since these elections do in fact affect us all.