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Abbott files amicus brief for DeLay

All things considered, I suppose this isn’t too surprising.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott plans to ask the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that Republicans cannot replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot.

Democratic Party General Counsel Chad Dunn said Abbott’s solicitor general, Ted Cruz, told him he will file a friend-of-the-court brief defending the state election law that Republicans want to use to replace DeLay.

Angela Hale, a spokeswoman for Abbott, a Republican, said she would not describe Cruz’s brief as a request to the appeals court to let Republicans replace DeLay on the general election ballot.

Hale said the brief that will be filed Thursday or Friday will challenge U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ interpretation of how state election law is interpreted under the U.S. Constitution.

The brief will be filed on behalf of Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, who is the state’s chief elections officer.

“Because the district court issued an injunction against the (Texas) secretary of state and declared a portion of the Texas Election Code unconstitutional, Secretary of State Roger Williams will be filing an amicus brief in Fifth Circuit defending the constitutionality of Texas law,” Hale said.

Dunn said the Texas Democratic Party does not claim the state election law is unconstitutional or that Sparks ruled that way.

[…]

“It’s going to be interesting if the attorney general files a brief with the Fifth Circuit saying, ‘We encourage candidates to manipulate the election law,’ ” Dunn said.

I think Dunn has the better argument here, but we’ll see what Abbott actually says.

I keep wondering what might have happened if DeLay had taken genuine steps to sever his ties to Sugar Land (putting his house on the market, for instance), and had testified unequivocally that he would be in Virginia permanently (as opposed to “indefinitely”, which leaves a lot of room for an eventual return), including on Election Day. That, it seems to me, would come a lot closer to meeting the Constitutional threshhold for the eligibility clause, and would have made Tina Benkiser’s declaration about his removal from the ballot look more like a compulsion than a choice. Who knows? It’ll be an interesting matter for the appellate court to consider.

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