House Republicans Assert Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Disputed House Races newsvine furl google yahoo netscape

Here's the deal: Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states "Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members..." Now, lawyers in disputed elections in California and Nevada have successfully argued that this clause prohibits local monitoring of house elections.

In the case of the disputed CA-50 special election, Dennis Hastert rushed to get the republican candidate, Brian Bilbray, sworn in just five days after the election, before any motions questioning the election could be acted upon. It has been suggested that this was done to ensure that Bilbray would be one "of its own members" when the jurisdictional argument was put forth.

From San Diego's 10 News website article, it seems that strategy worked as planned in the case of the CA-50 election:

Superior Court Judge Yuri Hoffman said that once the House of Representatives asserted its exclusive right to swear Bilbray into office, it left the court without jurisdiction in the election contest.

In a contested Nevada primary, reported here, the judge cited the same constitutional issue in not ordering a new primary:

After a daylong hearing, District Judge Bill Maddox said the state court lacks jurisdiction in congressional election contests because such authority is held solely by the U.S. House of Representatives under the U.S. Constitution.

For those interesting in open musing about what this all means for the future, check out this interview.

Readers are invited to post their opinions below.

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