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House lawyers balk at Rangel’s request to settle suit on his censure

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House lawyers on Monday balked at a request by Rep. Charles B. Rangel to settle his federal lawsuit against House Speaker John A. Boehner and six other lawmakers over the chamber's censure of him — and a federal quickly judge agreed.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates marks the latest legal development since New York Democrat filed the suit to overturn his 2010 congressional censure, accusing lawmakers of violating his due process.

Last week, Mr. Rangel's attorney asked a court to order the House to initiate settlement talks. But House lawyers on Monday said no such order is needed — not that they're interested anyway.

"To the extent Congressman Rangel believes this case is amenable to settlement — and we do not believe it is — he does not need a Court order; his counsel is free to contact Defendants' counsel directly, at any time," House attorneys wrote in court papers Monday.

What's more, Mr. Rangel has "articulated exactly zero reasons" that would justify a judge ordering settlement talks, the House lawyers added.

Mr. Rangel could not be reached for comment Monday evening, but in the past he has referred reporters to his attorney, Jay Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg filed his own sharply worded motion Monday.

The defense lawyer accused House members of "complete arrogance," calling the House response "mind-boggling."

The defense filing cites a memo from a congressional staffer that Mr. Goldberg calls evidence of a "clandestine conspiracy to destroy any semblance of impartiality" on the part of Republicans in the ethics probe into Mr. Rangel.

While the case remains active, the judge issued a brief ruling denying the request by Mr. Goldberg to order settlement talks.

House lawyers filed a 77-page motion to dismiss the suit in July, calling the complaint "specious" and noting that the lawmaker could have asked his colleagues to pass a resolution rescinding his censure.

The House voted to censure Mr. Rangel in 2010 for failing to disclose rental income on a vacation house and breaking the House ban on gifts.

"I know in my heart I'm not going to be judged by this Congress," he said at the time. "But I'm going to be judged by my life, my activities and my contributions to society."

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