Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fahrenholtz Fails in Federal Court

Clancy DuBos reports that U.S. District Judge Peter Beer has declined to reinstate Jimmy Fahrenholtz as a candidate in the 2nd District U.S. House race. Judge Beer's ruling was based on res judicata, rather than any flaw in Fahrenholtz's claim that the state statute that lead to his disqualification was unconstitutional.

Fahrenholtz's mistake (the one most pertinent to Judge Beer's ruling, anyway) was pursuing his case all the way through state court. He should have removed it to federal court as soon as possible, since it dealt with a federal question. A federal court might have had a better understanding of the U.S. Constitution and more of a willingness to rule a state statute unconstitutional.

There are two very negative consequences to this ruling.

First, the Democratic voters of the 2nd District won't have as broad a range of candidates as they could have had.

Second, Louisiana will probably go on using a constitutionally flawed qualifying form until it causes problems for some other candidate. Let us hope that that candidate's lawyer learns from Fahrenholtz's example.

This ruling is probably most advantageous to Helena Moreno and Bill Jefferson.

As the lone white candidate remaining in the Democratic primary, Moreno now has a very good chance of making it into a party runoff with Jefferson.

Jefferson, in turn, has a much better chance of winning a Democratic runoff against a white candidate than he would against another black candidate.

Since the Democratic nominee is almost certain to win the general election, Louisiana's constitutionally clumsy attempt at political reform has probably ensured the re-election of a Congressman who is currently under indictment for bribery, racketeering, and money-laundering.

Some of my previous posts on the Fahrenholtz case can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

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