Friday, October 10, 2008

Kurita Pleads Case Before Federal Judge

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 1:38 PM

State Sen. Rosalind Kurita's lawyer urged a federal judge today to put her name back on the Nov. 4 ballot as the Democratic nominee. After a three-hour hearing, Judge Robert Echols said he'd rule early next week. Attorney James Bopp criticized Democrats for claiming "carte blanche authority" to choose nominees any way party bosses see fit. He said the party executive committee violated Kurita's constitutional rights by tossing out her 19-vote primary victory over Tim Barnes. "They want to claim now that votes in a primary mean nothing," Bopp said. "Instead of all votes counting, none of the votes count. Elections are about fulfilling the will of the people. The will of the people is that Senator Kurita be the nominee of the Democratic Party. She had the fruits of her victory, and they have been ripped away from her." But state law leaves it up to political parties to decide their nominees, according to the lawyers for the other side. They said Democrats could have flipped a coin to pick their nominee if that's what they wanted to do. "There were no smoke-filled rooms, sir, no backroom deals. This was an open process," said Brant Phillips, the party's lawyer. In fact, he argued, the judge would violate the party’s First Amendment rights by ruling in Kurita's favor. Democrats are exercising their right not to associate with her, he said. Echols didn't reveal which way he's leaning during his questioning of the lawyers. But the betting here by all the legal experts at Pith is that he'll dismiss Kurita's lawsuit, finding this to be a political question, not one for courts to decide. At least Kurita will have gained a little more publicity for her write-in campaign. The Nashville media were out in force to cover today's hearing

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