Texas GOP Seeks, But Doesn't Find, Activist Judge

Friday, July 07, 2006

Texas GOP Seeks, But Doesn't Find, Activist Judge

In the wake of Tom DeLay's decision to resign his congressional seat, Texas Republicans have worked with the Hammer to replace his name on the November election ballot with that of another GOP candidate. But their effort was torpedoed by a Texas judge yesterday:
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 (22nd district) congressional seat that he abandoned last month.

Sparks said DeLay could "withdraw'' from the race under Texas election law, but that still would not allow the Republicans to replace him on the ballot.

Republicans are fond of attacking "activist" federal judges who, they contend, fail to approach constitutional issues with an "original intent" philosophy. But here was the Texas Republican Party asking a federal judge to interpret the Constitution (Article I, Section 2) in a loosey-goosey way.

As the Houston Chronicle explains, Judge Sparks wasn't buying their argument:
DeLay had sought to have state Republican Chair Tina Benkiser declare him ineligible by moving from Sugar Land to his condominium in Virginia. But Sparks said that would not make him ineligible because the requirement under the Constitution is whether DeLay is an inhabitant of Texas on election day.

Sparks said contradicting evidence raised questions about whether DeLay planned to remain a resident of Virginia, but he said that did not matter because DeLay could not say where he would be on election day.

"The court holds that allowing Benkiser to declare DeLay ineligible at this time would amount to a de facto residency requirement in violation of the United States Constitution,'' Sparks said in his opinion.

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