Fifth Circuit to hear DeLay appeal next Monday

I don’t see it on the news wires as I draft this, but according to Paul Burka, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the appeal of Judge Sam Sparks’ ruling on the DeLay ballot replacement lawsuit on Monday, July 31. Says Burka:

The Court had the option of deciding the case on the briefs alone, so a reasonable conclusion is that the legal issues are sufficiently clouded that the judges want to ask some questions and hear some answers.

True, but one might also reasonably conclude that the Court wants to go out of its way to ensure that no one can complain about how it approached the matter. A summary ruling might well be seen by the losing side as unnecessarily brusque. There’s no reason not to care about appearances.

In any event, the three judges on the panel are (via Juanita): Edith Brown Clement (appointed by W), James L. Dennis (Clinton), and Fortunato P. Benavides (Clinton). Make of that what you will.

Finally, Fort Bend Now tells us what will happen to all those online petitions that Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill collected.

Lawyers familiar with the case now before the 5th Circuit say it would do more than that. If presented to the court, such a petition could be construed as an ex parte communication which, if generated by an attorney, would constitute a violation of at least one of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Plus, lawyers tell me, the petition could anger 5th Circuit judges sufficiently that they could strike the state Republican Party’s brief before the court, if they felt like it.

“It’s an extraordinary tactic,” said one attorney familiar with the case. “It’s just bizarre.”

But no worries really, says Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill.

Despite the statement saying that petition “will be delivered directly to the 5th Circuit,” it won’t.

“There will be no attempt to actually talk to the judges per se,” Woodfill said. It’s not going to be delivered to the front steps of the courthouse.

Instead, the petition “is an opportunity for people of the district to let their feelings be known,” Woodfill said, through an expression of free speech.

A mock petition, if you will.

So, never mind.

Certainly a mockable petition, if you will. Ladies and gentlemen of the 22nd Congressional District, Jared Woodfill wants you to know that he cares about your feelings. I do hope you appreciate that.

On the matter of the other, more official, outside influence on this decision, Marc has a pointer to the amicus brief (PDF) filed by Attorney General Greg Abbott. He also has some criticism of the substance of that brief.

And finally, our day wouldn’t be complete without one more bit of speculation about DeLay’s future as a potential candidate in CD22. The Washington Times does the honors.

“He can’t see himself ever becoming majority leader again, let alone House speaker – and he sees no point in crawling over glass to get elected only to be a backbencher after so many years as a member of the House leadership,” a Republican confidante of Mr. DeLay says.

Well, yeah, which is why the rumors have been about him running for the express purpose of resigning again and allowing a special election to replace him.

Publicly, his stance is different. “The Hammer,” who faces trial in Texas, has implied that he will campaign hard if Democrats win their legal battle to keep the Texas GOP from replacing his name on the November ballot.

His chances of winning have improved as sympathy for him has grown even among Republican voters in his district who had developed “DeLay fatigue” after 21 years of his service in Congress.

Don’t know who the source is for that, but I’ve not seen a lot of evidence that Republicans are anything but unhappy about having to run through this gauntlet, especially since it didn’t have to be this way. Various others have suggested the sympathy angle, but at this time I ain’t buying it. And remember, sympathy only gets you so far when the campaign cash math is against you.

Friends say Mr. DeLay will make a run only if his party concludes it was necessary to keep Texas’ 22nd congressional district from going to a Democrat in November.

This sentence makes no sense. Either DeLay can be replaced on the ballot or not. If he can, obviously he goes away. If he can’t, either he makes a run or he concedes the seat to Nick Lampson. There’s no other calculation, unless you try to factor in the possibility that DeLay making an active run could cause collateral damage elsewhere.

Anyway. July 31. Stay tuned.

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One Response to Fifth Circuit to hear DeLay appeal next Monday

  1. muse says:

    Twenty minutes of argument per side has been alloted per side on the 31st. I have it from a good source that the TDP lawyers have known for a while that brief arguments would be heard. The word on the street is that it would be VERY surprising if the judges ruled any other way but to keep DeLay on the ballot. I’m one of those that believes DeLay needs to pay his legal bills and will withdraw from the race.

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