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20.12.06

Defeated Democrats need to quit abusing judiciary

I’ve deliberately not commented on this particular news item because the whole thing has been ridiculous from the start, but a couple of whiney Democrats have gone to extraordinary efforts to keep it alive, so it’s time to bring some sense and perspective to it.

Last month, Republican Rep. Jim McCrery won yet another to term to Congress. But shortly thereafter, one of his defeated opponents, Patti Cox, sued to have the election invalidated and asked for something unprecedented in American politics, to rerun the election with McCrery disqualified. She based this on a claim that McCrery did not reside in the district, as he had sold his home and listed as his residence an address nearby where he stayed when in town.

While decentralized, the law is clear on determining residency and qualification for Congress, and the manner in which it may be protested. The U.S. Constitution requires that members of Congress live in the state they represent. Residency in Louisiana is defined as being an eligible elector. An eligible elector, by state law, is one who lives at an address for 30 days prior to an election. In terms of election qualification, someone who files for an office who is deemed to eligible to run at the time of qualification can be disqualified from running only if protested within seven working days of the filing deadline; otherwise, he may legally run. No one disputed McCrery’s residency at the proper time.

Thus, from the perspective of the state, McCrery has met all of the qualifications to run. Further, he has been duly elected. So now the only contestable matter is whether he is eligible to serve, something determined, according to the Constitution, by the body (in this case the House of Representatives) itself in which he is to serve which judges the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members.

Cox brought this case first to a state-created court, where it was properly rejected, and now the federal judiciary is correctly about to do the same thing. But now the other defeated Democrat from the race, Artis Cash, also has filed suit asking for him, the second-place finisher (40 points behind McCrery) be declared the winner because McCrery is not a resident because he has a driver’s license from another state.

Again, judicial relief is not afforded a plaintiff on this issue. At this point, unless they intervene before McCrery is sworn in for his next term, the only way McCrery can be removed from office is if the House voted to expel him (requiring a two-thirds vote). Further, the relief granted in that instance would be to schedule a new election, not to redo one or proclaim a winner from the old one.

These kinds of judicial actions merely clog up the courts, wasting precious judicial resources better used on other matters. Cox and Cash need to quit whining in courts and about their decisions and instead bring the action to the House, if they think they have a legitimate case.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Well, if a lawsuit were to gain any traction, why should the only two Democrats be allowed in the run-off? Mike Stagg of Lafayette Democrats posted about this, saying the two Democrats should be allowed in the run-off, yet never answered my question as to why the whole election should not be thrown out, thereby giving Chester Kelly (R) another chance to compete in a run-off.

Personally, I like Kelly much more than McCrery, and if there is ever a "mis-election" called, he should be given as much consideration as the other candidates.