Even if Carl Lewis were Superman and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, he might still be confounded by the latest wall New Jersey Republicans have dropped on the tracks after it was ruled last week he was qualified to run for the state senate seat in the 8th Legislative District.
Accepting a request by the state’s Republicans, the same three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Court of Appeals, which last week ruled 2-1, that the 9-time Olympic goal medalist was free to run as a Democrat, in a precedent unheard of in recent judicial history decided to use a little known provision to rehear the case in order to review their own ruling.
“They’re (Republicans) trying to win an election without having one,” is the opinion of Lewis’ attorney William Tambussi, who says he was amazed to be called back before the court.
“It’s hard for me to get to why. This is atypical. I have never had a 3rd Circuit argument when I’ve been called back.” Tambussi said both he and the counsel for the Republicans were taken aback.
Why the unprecedented persistence? “This is now something I think the Republicans clearly have concern about. Carl being on the ballot. In my 28 years of practicing law and the amount of election cases I’ve handled, I’ve never seen a challenge go to this.”
“This is really unusual,” according to experienced political writer, David Lavinsky, who attended today’s hearing. “It was real surprising that these three judges are hearing it again. I’ve never seen it and I’ve covered a lot of this stuff.”
If he had to give a reason, he says it’s possible “that one of the judges is trying to right the decision. At least one has misgivings.” And where does that leave this stop-and-start race? “We’ll be right back where we were last Tuesday.”
Tambussi says is far more serious than that. If the judges do hand down a different opinion, their next and only move is the U.S. Supreme Court and time is not on their side with 49 days out until election day.
If the ruling is against Lewis. “I’m going to talk to Carl. It’s a practical matter. The U.S Supreme Court doesn’t open until the first Monday in October. We would have to summit a petition to Justice Alito because the Supreme Court is not in session. Justice Alito has interim authority to grant or deny.”
Lewis’ attorney said his clients campaign, up until now, has been seriously hurt by judicial delays. It’s still a waiting game and as Tambussi repeatedly said this is beyond anything he’s ever heard of. “In our research there is no court case that has reached this stage.”