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Judge rules for Democrats in DeLay replacement lawsuit

Hold onto your hats, it’s gonna get even crazier from here.

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.

Details of Sparks ruling were not immediately available.

Sparks ruling halts the process of replacing DeLay on the ballot, but the GOP is expected to appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the Republicans lose on appeal, DeLay will have to decide whether to campaign for an office from which he already has resigned.

I have no idea what will come next. Every day I think this campaign season can’t get any wilder, and every day I’m proven wrong. Unbelievable.

UPDATE: Here’s Judge Sparks’ ruling (PDF). Basically, he asserted that the Constitutional requirements for eligibility to the House are all there is and all the Framers intended there to be. Since Tina Benkiser’s testimony and other evidence indicated that no one could say for sure where DeLay would be in November, ruling him ineligible in June “would amount to a de facto in-state residency requirement in violation of the United States Constitution. The Court holds DeLay is not ineligible and shall remain on the ballot for the general election on November 7, 2006 as the Republican candidate for House District 22.”

More interesting is the footnote to this paragraph: “The simple fact is that DeLay, for personal reasons, decided to withdraw his candidacy for the general election after the voters elected him in the Republican primary election. DeLay is entitled to withdraw from the race for House District 22 before the general election; however, Texas law specifies the manner of the withdrawal and its consequences.” As they say, indeed.

UPDATE: Ooh, another juicy footnote: “The Court suspects that the only reason DeLay did not simply withdraw from the race is that the Texas Election Code prohibits the substitution of a replacement nominee in a withdrawal based on these facts.” I’d say Judge Sparks did not think much of the GOP’s case here.

UPDATE: The Lone Star Project has more excerpts from the ruling if you don’t feel like reading it all (though you should, it’s good stuff). And here’s Nick Lampson’s reaction:

Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise released the following statement today regarding the granting of an injunction in favor of the Texas Democratic Party against Republican Party of Texas Chair Tina Benkiser.

Malaise stated: “Judge Sparks said it best in his opinion, ‘Political acumen, strategy and manufactured evidence, even combined with a sound policy in mind, cannot override the Constitution.’ Regardless of who he ends up running against, Nick Lampson is going to use this time to get his positive message to voters. He went up with two tv ads yesterday, our campaign has knocked on thousands of doors, and made thousands of phone calls, and Nick Lampson will continue to work hard all the way to November.”

I know there’s an appeal coming, and anything can still happen. But I’m going to enjoy this right now, even perhaps more than I’m enjoying the chaos at the Fort Bend Executive Committee meeting, where the backbiting and hard feelings that surely would have resulted from the completion of the replacement process may get forestalled. That will still come, so let’s live in the moment for awhile.

UPDATE: Here’s a pretty good timeline of events leading up to Judge Sparks’ decision. Link via Juanita, who will be celebrating this decision tomorrow night in Sugar Land. If things go as planned, I’ll be there as well.

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15 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I’m stunned.

    Hey, if Tom pleads guilty to a felony, is he ineligible?

  2. Dennis says:

    Republican chair Tina Binkiser was quoted as saying earlier “Democrats love courthouses”.

    Damn right. Courthouses are where JUSTICE is found!

  3. Michael says:

    I see Tom as having two other options.

    1: He can engage in rebellion against the US, thus excluding himself under the 14th amendment.

    2: He can renounce his citizenship and offshore himself to Bermuda, so that he will not be a citizen for the past 7 years.

    Either one is a win for America.

  4. kevin whited says:

    Don’t celebrate too soon — the Fifth Circuit will surely have their say, and probably very soon.

  5. Dennis says:

    Michael – I think you should direct your question to Kristen Mack at the Houston Chronicle. She has written, as has the editorial board there, that state law is “ambiguous” as to whether a felon can hold elective office. I think DeLay should be the test case.

  6. Pug says:

    The scary thing is DeLay will probably win if his name is on the ballot. What then?

    I live one district away and I think the good folks of Sugar Land would elect a yellow dog if it was a Republican.

  7. Michael says:

    Kevin: that’s pretty much what everyone expects, of course. What they have to prove on appeal is that there is a flaw in the logic or legal process. “But I didn’t get my way” isn’t grounds.

    And who knows, TD could win. Voters are funny people sometimes.

    While we’re talking about options if TRP doesn’t prevail, Tom could fake his own death, but it would be hard to be a lobbyist after that.

  8. Burt Levine says:

    Wouldn’t it be the 5th circuit would have its say and not their say?

  9. d says:

    I think this proves that Matt Angle, Russ Tidwell and all the others who run the TDP are geniuses. Total geniuses. Always said so. This proves it. I bet Martin Frost is reinstated as Congressman in Dallas next. Geniuses.

  10. Jeff N. says:

    Wow. I am surprised. Thanks for the news, Charles — I first saw it here!

  11. Julie Keller says:

    I say again, Judge Sparks rocks!

  12. Michael says:

    Denis: I just looked on the House website, and it looks like felony conviction that the voters know about isn’t exclusionary unless they strip your citizenship. Texas can’t set any requirements for the House that aren’t in the constitution.

  13. Dennis says:

    Michael – I’m sure you are righ. As I recall, James Traficant ran for his old House seat while behind bars in a federal prison.

  14. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    “Political acumen, strategy and manufactured evidence even combined with a sound policy in mind cannot override the Constitution”

    …sounds like a useful argument to abide by the Texas Constitution’s requirement for Paper Ballots.

    from:
    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/06/15votesuit.html

    Lawsuit challenges Travis’ electronic voting

    snip

    By Steven Kreytak

    AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

    Thursday, June 15, 2006
    Seeking to keep Travis County from using its electronic voting system in upcoming elections, an Austin civil rights group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the system violates state law because it doesn’t produce paper ballots.

    The Texas Civil Rights Project sued Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir in state District Court.

    The lawsuit argues that voters have no way of knowing whether the vote they cast is recorded or stored correctly by the eSlate system, which has been used in Travis County since 2002, and that electronic systems are prone to fraud and mistakes. The group wants an injunction to block use of the machines and cites government and media reports detailing problems with electronic voting in Texas and other states.

    Travis County has embraced the technology, switching to electronic voting for everything but absentee ballots. The federal government required Texas to put at least one electronic voting machine in each precinct by Jan. 1 so people with disabilities can easily vote.

    ………………….

    and just in case you missed this one:

    December 27, 2004
    Forty Faxes and a Whisper
    Texas Election Scandal
    http://www.counterpunch.org/moses12272004.html

    By GREG MOSES

    “As I look back over the General Election held on Nov. 2, 2004, I know that voting is a ‘right’ that is being taken away everyday,” writes Brenda Denson-Prince. But she is not writing about far away places like Ohio or Florida. She is writing about her own attempt to become the first woman in Kaufman County, Texas to sit on the County Commissioners Court. On the day after Christmas, Denson-Prince faxes me forty pages.

    snip

    “Come out here and explain,” said the administrator to an assistant. Between the two of them, who both seemed pretty nervous, Denson-Prince caught the words “glitch” and “disk.”

    “Deja-Vote,” hollered the headline in Wednesday morning’s Kaufman Herald. “A computer software glitch is being blamed for controversy that occurred Tuesday night as ballots were being counted by Kaufman County election officials,” began the story.
    “The problem occurred when data taken from one counting machine to another computer for collating became corrupted. The data roughly doubled the amount of votes counted for several precincts, according to Kaufman County information technology director George York.” A two-column photo of York showed him testing a ballot-counting machine on Wednesday morning.

    ………..

    DeLay put in more E-Voting machines in his district before the primary.

    E-Voting = No Evidence Voting

    Scanning = Hidden Evidence Voting such as with Gore and Kerry

    With DeLay on the ballot, it will be important to make sure the ballot is paper and hand counted.

    If not, then evidence, proof could be added by having parallel elections as suggested by Lynn Landes, Bev Harris and Mark Crispin Miller.

    Another simple idea suggested by Lynn Landes is: Right after you vote on Election Day, send to the candidate(s) for whom you voted a postcard or letter with your name, address, and signature, and simply state that you voted for him/her. Candidates can use that information to challenge “official” election results. Candidates of any party should not concede until they have canvassed some or all precincts to check on official election results.

    ……………..

    from:
    http://markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/2006/07/call-to-arms-on-this-fourth-of-july.html

    A call to arms on this Fourth of July!
    Here, friends, is a clarion call from a great new group–the Election Defense Alliance (EDA). I’m proud to say that I am on the board of this endeavor, and can vouch for the integrity, intelligence and patriotic spirit of all those who put the EDA together.

    Please send this email far and wide. This a group that really gets it.

    MCM
    ***

    Dear Election Integrity Activist,

    Who would have thought that our 230th Day of Independence would see American Democracy hanging by a thread? Yet so it is, and a good part of that thread is our movement to restore honest elections. Our task is immense and we are all rising to it. But as so much vital work is being undertaken in election integrity groups around the country-and as we find ourselves yet again deep in the swamp of skullduggery the American election cycle has become-the necessity for coordinating our ideas, strategies, tactics and resources is becoming more apparent than ever.

    At this critical juncture, when the need for working together can not be overestimated, we are happy to announce the formation of the Election Defense Alliance (EDA), a national coordinating body of election integrity activists, working throughout the country to defend our election systems against covert election fraud.

    EDA’s primary functions will be to provide coordination and focus; eliminate duplication of efforts; create a clearinghouse for the sharing of materials, know-how, and other resources; and facilitate cohesive decision-making about strategic priorities and tactical approaches.

    It is clear that election integrity forces will be successful only if our efforts have a cumulative and mutually reinforcing effect. At the same time it is also evident that strategies and tactics must be tailored to the needs of individual venues, and that local groups generally have the most experience in identifying and meeting such needs. Therefore EDA is structured to draw energy and ideas from the grassroots level and provide the synergy necessary to meld these disparate efforts into a cohesive national force to be reckoned with.

    Because November is bearing down on us, our initial emphasis is on the coordination of all efforts pertaining to election monitoring, data analysis, and rapid and effective response. Our goal is to permit affiliated groups to concentrate on their particular focus while Election Defense Alliance functions both to facilitate their efforts and to amplify the effect. To that end, we will share techniques for recruiting, training, and deploying the volunteer armies that will be needed in the field. We are also concentrating on establishing media connections, raising funds, and developing coalitions with non-election-related organizations to build the massive public awareness needed if election integrity is to be front-and-center in America.

    In the longer run, our attention will be focused on all of the following strategies and supportive processes:

    Election Monitoring
    Data Analysis
    Investigation
    Litigation
    Legislation
    Public Education
    Coalition Building
    Public Events
    Election Day Rapid Response
    Voting and Registration Systems
    Volunteer Recruitment and Training
    Fundraising
    Communications
    Media and PR

    Each strategy component will have a working group of activists focused on that particular activity. Each group will select its own leader who will also serve as the group’s representative to EDA’s Coordinating Council, or leadership body. EDA’s affiliated organizations, whether or not they participate directly in one or several of these groups, will be able to draw upon the work and contributions of fellow affiliates and EDA’s collective expertise. In this way, EDA affiliates will be able to concentrate on their own specific missions (e.g., exit polling, HCPB, litigation, etc.), while drawing upon the collective for many of the nuts-and-bolts components (such as education, PR, volunteer recruitment) that are necessary for successful election integrity initiatives. At the same time, individual initiatives will have dramatically greater impact when linked through EDA with the many similar programs being undertaken nationwide. To look at specific examples of just how EDA will function to facilitate the work and strengthen the hand of election integrity activists, please click here.

    In sum, affiliation with Election Defense Alliance will enable each member group to transcend its own resources without sacrificing its autonomy. The result of such synergy, we believe, will be the critical mass that we have all learned from experience is essential to our success.

    EDA differs from existing national groups in several important respects. First, it is not primarily a discussion list. We are action-oriented. Our primary objective is to create and implement a more comprehensive strategy than would be possible for any individual group or small number of groups working together. Yet, in recognizing the importance of coordinated strategies, we nonetheless also perceive that the vast majority of the work must be done at the state and local levels, not on the national level. Furthermore, we view attempts at national legislative reform as highly unlikely to succeed, and indeed fraught with HAVAesque perils, given the current constellation of power in Congress.

    At EDA we believe that success in responding to the electoral state-of-siege will require a vast expansion of public awareness and the channeling of that awareness into corrective action by citizens at every phase of the electoral process throughout the United States. And we believe that the public cannot be mobilized to the necessary scale and speed of action unless the prevailing reality, including the nexus between election-rigging and political dominance, is fully and frankly exposed. EDA will not shrink from publicly making those connections.

    Election Defense Alliance is both aggressive and strategic, prepared for the long haul but aware that there is no more wiggle room for delay, confusion, or ineffectiveness. Recent developments-such as the RFK Rolling Stone article, the Brennan Center Report, the California 50th District Special “Election,” and a dramatic uptick in media attention and public awareness-have set the stage for a very public battle over the future of our democracy. We know that the still out-manned forces of electoral integrity must bring their very best to this battle.

    The more individuals and groups affiliated, the stronger will be the impact that all of us will make together.

    The following activists have already endorsed and/or affiliated with EDA: Jerry Adams, Judy Alter, Ray Beckerman, Gary Beckwith, Tom Courbat, Marj Creech, Dorothy Fadiman, Brad Friedman, David Griscom, Sherry Healy, Kip Humphrey, Gail Jonas, Emily Levy, Victoria Lovegren, Sharona Merel, Lewis Miller, Mark Crispin Miller, Bruce O’Dell, Peter Phillips , Ginny Ross, Nancy Tobi, Bob Wilson. By joining with them and working with EDA you can continue the important work you are already doing AND be part of a critical collaborative effort, working together to make the enormous impact necessary for success.

    Our website at http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org, though under construction, already features lots of helpful information, including our Prospectus, principles of governance and organizational structure, a growing resource library, biographical information of affiliated individuals and groups, discussion forums, and a blog. We believe the site will be very helpful in answering any questions you may have about EDA that we have not addressed in this brief introduction.

    We all know that our democracy is at stake and that time is short. This is the most important issue any of us has ever worked on. We must join together to be successful. Make this a momentous Independance Day for American Democracy. Please sign on at http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/join.

    We very much look forward to working with you.

    In solidarity,

    Dan Ashby
    Sally Castleman
    Jonathan Simon

    Election Defense Alliance co-founders

    …………………………

    We have to win and assume office now because Thelma Bush and his Louise GOP with their greater extinction level job performance are causing global warming with their Voluntary Pollution Laws.

    Voluntary Pollution Laws Cause Global Warming

    And, perhaps SUDDEN Global Warming

    With Voluntary Pollution Laws, every day it is harder to fix, until one day it will be impossible to fix. Then, as Stephen Hawking worries increasely, we could have a sudden, runaway greenhouse extinction event that would make earth look like the lifeless planet Venus.

    from:
    http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/lindex.html

    “In this talk, I would like to speculate a little, on the development of life in the universe, and in particular, the development of intelligent life. I shall take this to include the human race, even though much of its behaviour through out history, has been pretty stupid, and not calculated to aid the survival of the species.”

    snip

    So the rate of biological evolution in humans, is about a bit a year. By contrast, there are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA.

    This has meant that we have entered a new phase of evolution. At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information. But in the last ten thousand years or so, we have been in what might be called, an external transmission phase. In this, the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has not changed significantly. But the external record, in books, and other long lasting forms of storage, has grown enormously. Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes. We may be no stronger, or inherently more intelligent, than our cave man ancestors. But what distinguishes us from them, is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, over the last three hundred. I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race.

    The time scale for evolution, in the external transmission period, is the time scale for accumulation of information. This used to be hundreds, or even thousands, of years. But now this time scale has shrunk to about 50 years, or less. On the other hand, the brains with which we process this information have evolved only on the Darwinian time scale, of hundreds of thousands of years. This is beginning to cause problems. In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library. By which time, many more books would have been written.

    This has meant that no one person can be the master of more than a small corner of human knowledge. People have to specialise, in narrower and narrower fields. This is likely to be a major limitation in the future. We certainly can not continue, for long, with the exponential rate of growth of knowledge that we have had in the last three hundred years. An even greater limitation and danger for future generations, is that we still have the instincts, and in particular, the aggressive impulses, that we had in cave man days. Aggression, in the form of subjugating or killing other men, and taking their women and food, has had definite survival advantage, up to the present time. But now it could destroy the entire human race, and much of the rest of life on Earth. A nuclear war, is still the most immediate danger, but there are others, such as the release of a genetically engineered virus. Or the green house effect becoming unstable.

    There is no time, to wait for Darwinian evolution, to make us more intelligent, and better natured.

    ……………..

    So, perhaps we can put evidence back into our elections, where it has been removed or hidden by these machines. Hand count paper ballots.

    So, Democrats, especially Goodwille Pierre (his first vouch for E-Voting machines as being reliable was very troubling, but he adjusted.) and Van Os, should have the most to say about The Voting Rights Act and remedies, and must educate the public better than media has so far done.

  15. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    Dear Pug,

    All Yellow Dogs Are Democrats.

    from:

    http://bobgeiger.blogspot.com/2005/02/what-is-yellow-dog-democrat.html

    What is a Yellow Dog Democrat?

    A Yellow Dog Democrat is an unswerving party loyalist. The term comes from the 1928 presidential election, when Senator Tom Heflin of Alabama refused to support fellow Democrat Al Smith. Instead, Heflin chose to support Republican Herbert Hoover who would become president and lead the country into the abyss of the Great Depression. Many Alabamans disagreed with Heflin’s choice and in retaliation popularized the line “I’d vote for a yellow dog if he ran on the Democratic ticket.”

    The label stuck and, for many of us who strongly oppose the ideology of the Republican party, it illustrates the lengths some Democrats will go to support our ticket. In short, a Yellow Dog would never vote for a Republican.

    There has seldom been a time in our national dialog when the lines between party ideology have been so clearly defined. If you are a Democrat, it is imperative that you vote for candidates who share your values and beliefs and reject those who proudly join and support George W. Bush under the Republican banner.

    posted by
    Bob Geiger
    at 2/15/2005