Friday, May 23, 2008

Meeting the enemy

I didn't think this suit had legs. You don't vote and under the Texas Democratic party rules the number of delegates received at the primary evening caucuses are proportionally related to the historical voter turn-out for each district.

Adding insult to injury, as I recall, Judge Biery was a Bill Clinton appointee, not that it would or should have any effect on this matter.

Just call it irony.

Judge tosses LULAC's suit over Dems' primary
By Graeme

Citing cartoon character Pogo's lament that, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” a San Antonio federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Texas Democratic Party's primary rules dilute the power of Hispanic votes.

The Texas League of United Latin American Citizens sued the party May 6, seeking among other things to enjoin the seating of delegates at the party's state convention next month.

The suit came amid the hurly-burly of the now-winding-down contest between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and after record turnout here for the March 4 primary. Obama was able to actually net delegates from Texas, blunting Clinton's popular-vote win through the subsequent precinct and district conventions and the allocation formula.

The state party rules give greater weight to districts that had higher turnout for the party's most recent gubernatorial nominee. That meant heavily Latino districts, which went overwhelmingly for Clinton, were given fewer delegates proportionally, since their turnout in 2006 was low.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, in a typically colorful order in which he averred that, “I hope to shoot baskets some day with Sen. Obama,” noted the irony, lacing it with some implicit criticism.
“Consequences flow from not voting,” he wrote. “While the Court believes those protected by the VRA are squandering the legacy given them by Martin Luther King, Willie Velasquez, Lyndon Johnson and others by not participating, they cannot be forced to govern themselves while placing a higher value on other endeavors.

“Rome was not built in a day,” he continued, “nor did it decline overnight, but its decay from within came in part because of its misplaced priorities.”

Biery ruled the suit was untimely, that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act was not being violated by Texas Democrats, and that the remedy sought by LULAC would effectively encourage folks not to vote.

One of LULAC's main contentions was that the party had not sought “pre-clearance” for its primary rules from the Justice Department, as they claimed was required by the VRA. Biery ruled that such a stricture did not apply, since it was a “hypertechnical” reading of the rules and there was no evidence of intimidation or threats.

Luis Vera Jr., a LULAC lawyer and Clinton supporter, said the group would appeal Biery's decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“I think he's just wrong. How can the (VRA) not apply in this case?” Vera said. “Unfortunately, all these cases, when you look at the history, were lost at the district court level. ... It's very disappointing, but we've been disappointed before.”

He said he was holding out hope that the Justice Department would intervene.

In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie took a conciliatory tone, saying the party would continue to reach out to minorities, and he encouraged proposals for reforming the primary rules.