by Clancy DuBos
The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal heard oral arguments this afternoon (Thursday, July 24) in Jimmy Fahrenholtzs appeal of a trial judges decision earlier this week to toss him from the Sept. 6 Second Congressional District Democratic primary. By law, the court must render a decision within 24 hours or by a little after 5 p.m. Friday.
I was not present for the oral arguments, but I did speak afterward with Fahrenholtz as well as Duke Williams, the attorney (and contributor to Helena Moreno) who filed the suit challenging Fahrenholtzs candidacy. The suit was based on Fahrenholtzs signature on a certificate affirming that he did not owe any fines under the Louisiana Campaign Finance Disclosure Act. Judge Nadine Ramsey of Civil District Court ruled that he had lied on the form and tossed him from the ballot. Fahrenholtz appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
Fahrenholtz said he was pleased with how the oral arguments went in the appellate court. Williams said he learned a long time ago not to try to second-guess an appeals court. Williams added that the judges seemed interested in the constitutional angle i.e., whether states can impose restrictions on qualifications for congressional candidates beyond those set forth in the U.S. Constitution. If thats where this case turns, its good news for Fahrenholtz. If, however, the courts deem that the form Fahrenholtz signed is not a qualification, then Williams could prevail.
Now you know why some of Shakespeares characters wanted to kill all the lawyers.
Meanwhile, Fahrenholtz says he has or will soon file collateral attacks on Williams challenge in federal court. Frankly, Im surprised it took his lawyers this long to move this to federal court. To me, this is a federal question, and he could have removed the case to federal court immediately but thats just my opinion. One way or another, this case could set some sort of national precedent, but its more likely to do that if the ultimate ruling comes from a federal judge or panel of judges.