Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | October 03, 2002

Republicans bend the rules, so why the outrage?

Getting back to Toricelli, Joshua Marshall writes:

The money quote from the New Jersey Supreme Court ballot case came from Justice Peter G. Verniero, a former Chief Counsel, Chief of Staff and later Supreme Court appointee of former Governor Christie Whitman. "Didn't Mr. Forrester call for Mr. Torricelli to withdraw?" he said in response to a protesting Republican attorney during oral arguments. "Was he expecting to run unopposed?"

That about sums it up.

The Forrester campaign is now headed to the United States Supreme Court, the normal recourse of Republicans who can't win elections with majorities but aren't inclined to see that as the end of the story.

I've received a lot of emails in the last couple of days from people saying I'm ignoring the importance of the deadline which prescribes that in New Jersey candidates have to pull out 51 days before an election to have another name put on the ballot. There's certainly a good argument there. Just not the best argument. I'm reminded of earlier this year when Massachusetts Democrats tried to knock Mitt Romney out of contention for the governorship because there may have been some problem with his Massachusetts residency status. I thought that was wrong; just as I think this is wrong for Republicans to do. The unanimous decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court -- which is heavily stacked with Republican appointees -- I think gives a lot of credence to that view.

The Mitt Romney angle is brilliant, and I'm kicking myself for not have thought of it myself. According to Massachusetts law, Romney should not have been able to run for governor (all indications being he was a resident of Utah). However, the MA election board interpreted the residency rules loosely, and Romney was able to stay in the race.

At the time, I criticized Democrats for trying to get Romney off the ticket. Look it up here if you don't believe me. I made the same arguments in the Kathleen Harris case.

If Republicans were so eager to follow the rule of law, then they should insist Romney and Harris drop out of their respective races right now. But the hypocrites won't. I am at peace -- I have consistently argued that election law should be interpreted broadly to protect the voters. That calling in the lawyers smacks of desperation and ultimately subverts Democratic principles.

Update: Mike in the comments section brings up another good GOP rule bender:

The Constitutional prohibition against a president and vice president being from the same state is another one. Remember how Cheney had to run and get a mailing address in Wyoming after he was selected?

Posted October 03, 2002 09:49 AM | Comments (14)


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