- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

Republicans yesterday once again requested that the U.S. Supreme Court keep retired Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg off New Jersey's Senate ballot against Republican Doug Forrester.
The appeal by the Forrester campaign came despite the high court's decision on Monday not to intervene in the New Jersey Senate race, allowing Democrats in the state to replace embattled Sen. Robert G. Torricelli with Mr. Lautenberg in next month's election.
Mr. Lautenberg's entry into the race 34 days before the election a move that was approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court was seen as hurting Republican chances of regaining control of the U.S. Senate.
Despite agreement Monday by Mr. Forrester's own campaign manager and his attorney that the legal fight was over, it was back on yesterday after Mr. Forrester's formal appeal was added to the U.S. Supreme Court docket as case 02-555.
"I'm the person who said, 'the litigation is over, let the campaign begin,'" Trenton lawyer William E. Baroni Jr. conceded yesterday in an interview. He confirmed that he will press the appeal, but doubted there is enough time to get a decision prior to the election, which is just over three weeks away.
"Candidates who undergo bruising primaries may be replaced at leisure by party bosses with candidates about whom the public knows little. The voters, absentee or otherwise, will be the ones to suffer," the appeal says.
Mr. Baroni said the Forrester campaign did not renew its request for expedited handling of the case when it delivered petitions on paper to the court on Tuesday.
He said the campaign attempted to file its petition electronically on Friday, but the Supreme Court has not followed lower courts in adopting such practices, so the filing was not accepted.
The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously decided to allow state Democrats to replace Mr. Torricelli on the ballot with Mr. Lautenberg. Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of that decision and an emergency hearing.
Rejection of the emergency request for a stay was erroneously reported in many quarters as a unanimous refusal to hear the underlying appeal and apparently accepted as such by Mr. Forrester's campaign advisers.
"Game on. Now we've got the legalities out of the way we've got a race on our hands," Mr. Forrester's campaign manager Bill Pascoe told reporters after the high court's decision was announced Monday afternoon.
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, yesterday called for the New Jersey Republican Party to make good on Monday's promise "to move forward without the legal wrangling," DSCC spokeswoman Tovah Ravitz Meehan said.
"The Republicans said they would stop the litigating. It does seem they have not withdrawn their appeal," Mrs. Meehan said, acknowledging surprise that the case remains alive.
The U.S. Supreme Court in fact rejected without comment the emergency Republican request to stop New Jersey from reprinting and distributing ballots substituting Mr. Lautenberg's name for Mr. Torricelli's.
New Jersey law bars substitution of a candidate within 51 days of the election, but the state court approved the decision to replace Mr. Torricelli in order to assure voters of a meaningful choice on Nov. 5.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court may not review the interpretation of state law, the appeal cites the constitutional provision leaving to state legislatures, not to the courts, the prerogative to set the "times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives."
Mr. Baroni also charges the action leaves too little time for military and other overseas voters to return ballots.


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