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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Can Someone Take David Paterson to Court?



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Earlier today, I noted New York governor David Paterson appears to be refusing to hold a special election in the district that was represented by Eric Massa until March 8. If no election is held, the seat – a Republican-leaning district – will go without representation for more than 300 days, almost a year.

A reader sends along this legal decision from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004, stemming from Jim Traficant’s expulsion from Congress in Ohio, and wonders if there’s a path for legal action to force Paterson’s hand: to hold a special election in the district that was represented by Eric Massa until March 8:

In summation, we conclude that Article I, section 2, clause 4 imposed a mandatory duty upon Governor Taft to hold a special election to fill the vacancy in the District created by the expulsion of Traficant. Although there may be situations where an executive’s duty is excused because the time remaining on the Congressional term is truly de minimis, this was not such a situation. While legislative balancing of the state’s and its voters’ interests is entitled to deference, a special election that complied with Ohio’s election code could have been held in this case. Therefore, we hold that Governor Taft violated his duty to call a special election under Article I, section 2, clause 4 and denied ACLU members the rights to vote and to equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Anyone in the district want to take Paterson to court?


Tags: Barack Obama , Horserace , Joe Biden , Something Lighter


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