- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Backing Congress

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced yesterday that it has filed an amicus brief on behalf of 31 members of Congress that asks a federal appeals court in San Francisco to overturn a lower court ruling that found the national ban on partial-birth abortion unconstitutional.

The brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and supports the Justice Department’s position that the ban is constitutional.

“We are privileged to represent members of Congress to bring an end to what can only be described as infanticide,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ, which specializes in constitutional law.

The decision by a federal judge in San Francisco that the ACLJ and 31 Republicans in the House are seeking to overturn was among three rulings by federal judges in different judicial districts that found the national ban on partial-birth abortion unlawful. ACLJ has filed amicus briefs with appellate courts in two of the circuits and will file one in the third next month.

The bright side

“There were certainly reasons to despair after the 2004 election — chiefly, the awful thought that George W. Bush and a Republican Congress could find the means to exceed the egregious irresponsibility, the xenophobia, the sheer partisan pettiness and the callous disregard for life and law of Bush’s first term,” John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira write in the liberal magazine the American Prospect.

“But the election itself, and Bush’s margin of victory over Democrat John Kerry, were not reasons to despair. Bush won re-election by a smaller margin than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon or Dwight Eisenhower — and against a deeply flawed Democratic opponent,” said Mr. Judis and Mr. Teixeira, authors of the 2002 book “The Emerging Democratic Majority.”

“And there was little sign of a party realignment. In the great realigning elections of 1932 and ‘36, and ‘80 and ‘84, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, respectively, created majorities by winning over new blocs of voters from their opponents. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Bush and the Republicans had to patch together what remained of Reagan’s older coalition — without those states and voters that had earlier begun moving toward the Democrats. Bush’s victory in 2004 didn’t represent the onset of a new majority, but the survival of an older one.”

New election

After nearly two months of court fights and wrangling over lost votes, the North Carolina Board of Elections yesterday ordered a new statewide election for the closely contested race for agriculture commissioner.

Republican Steve Troxler leads Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes in final results from the Nov. 2 election. However, that figure was left in doubt by the discovery that an electronic voting-machine error in Carteret County eliminated 4,438 votes that were cast early.

No date was set for the new election, which could occur in mid-March at the earliest and cost $3.5 million. Turnout is expected to be low, maybe less than 10 percent of the more than 3.3 million votes cast in November, the Associated Press reports.

Name game

Hikers, bikers and fossil hunters visiting the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area on New Year’s Day won’t notice any change, the Denver Post reports.

The entrance sign inviting them into the rugged country near the Utah border will read the same. And there will be no hoopla to hint that, as of Saturday, the area will be renamed McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area in honor of outgoingU.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican.

The name change, approved quietly and quickly in Washington two months ago, is the latest in a name game that has raised the ire of some who don’t think Congress should be renaming natural resources in honor of sitting lawmakers.

Within days of the unheralded name change at Colorado Canyons, Congress is expected to approve new rules proposed by Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, that will prevent this kind of naming in the future, the Denver newspaper said.

Mac Zimmerman, a spokesman for Mr. Tancredo, said the proposal is not aimed at Mr. McInnis or outgoing Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, who will have a reservoir in southwestern Colorado named after him.

“This isn’t being done to visit any indignity on Campbell and McInnis,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “It’s just to make sure the rules reflect the view of Congress.”

Tiebreaker

The Montana Supreme Court has broken a tie in a state House race, giving the seat — and control of the chamber — to the Democrats.

A 6-1 decision handed down Tuesday threw out “one or more” of seven disputed ballots, allowing Democrat Jeanne Windham to claim victory over Rick Jore, the Constitution Party candidate for the 12th District seat.

The decision leaves the Montana House in a 50-50 spilt between Democrats and Republicans, but the Democrats will have control of the chamber because in January, Democrat Brian Schweitzer will be sworn in as governor and state law requires the speaker of the House to be from the party of the governor, United Press International reports.

Initial vote tallies in early November showed Mr. Jore ahead by one vote. A recount left Miss Windham and Mr. Jore tied at 1,559 votes. Miss Windham asked the courts to throw out seven ballots that she said were marked for both Mr. Jore and Republican candidate Jack Cross.

Hollywood drag

“When millions get TV news from Jon Stewart, Michael Moore’s anti-Bush documentary is boffo box office and Bruce Springsteen rocks through battleground states, the days when vote-seeking via MTV or Arsenio Hall seemed novel are long gone,” John Harwood writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“Yet Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ a conservative favorite, took in triple the revenue of Mr. Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ and Bush ally Toby Keith appears closer to the center of political gravity than Mr. Springsteen. The mileage Republicans now gain by contrasting themselves with Hollywood liberals almost certainly exceeds the cachet — and the cash — Democrats gain from them,” Mr. Harwood said.

Season’s greetings

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has a message “to the people of Islam” on her Web site, www.anncoulter.org.

Alluding to a notorious phrase that resulted in National Review Online discontinuing her columns in 2001, the right-wing diva writes: “Just think: If we’d invaded your countries, killed your leaders and converted you to Christianity, you’d all be opening Christmas presents right about now.

“Merry Christmas.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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