Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grace on Fahrenholtz

In her article on Jimmy Fahrenholtz's recent disqualification from the 2nd District Congressional race, Stephanie Grace of the Times-Picayune writes:

"Fahrenholtz, citing a separate, seemingly unrelated provision that exempts Congressional candidates, says he'll appeal."

I assume that the "separate, seemingly unrelated provision" that she's talking about is the language in RS 18:463A.(2)(a) (which corresponds to the second part of Clause 6 on Louisiana's generic candidate qualifying form) which says that a candidate must certify "...that he acknowledges that he is subject to the provisions of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (R.S. 18:1481 et seq.) if he is a candidate for any office other than United States senator, representative in congress, or member of a committee of a political party...."

That provision truly is unrelated to the problem that got Fahrenholtz disqualified. If it were the only basis of his appeal, then the appeal would surely fail. Instead, he should cite U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton in which the U.S. Supreme Court said:

Allowing individual States to adopt their own qualifications for congressional service would be inconsistent with the Framers' vision of a uniform National Legislature representing the people of the United States. If the qualifications set forth in the text of the Constitution are to be changed, that text must be amended.

Grace also criticizes Fahrenholtz for failing to follow campaign finance laws:

"Sure, there are plenty of worse things a politician can do. Fahrenholtz isn't accused of soliciting bribes, as the man he hoped to unseat, incumbent William Jefferson, is. And he's not accused of taking them, as former school board colleague Ellenese Brooks-Simms has admitted doing, from Jefferson's brother Mose, no less.

But that doesn't absolve Fahrenholtz of his utter indifference toward the law. At the very least, someone who wants to be put in charge of making the rules should show enough respect to follow them."

She's right. It's generally a bad thing for politicians to be indifferent to the law. However, she missed the much more egregious example of such behavior in this case: Louisiana state officials' disregard of the United States Constitution.

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