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September 18, 2014

Kansas Supreme Court: Ignore Kansas' Election Code, If Applying the Code Would Disadvantage the Democratic Cause

As you will remember, the Democrats urged Chad Taylor to drop out of the senatorial race because, being a Democrat, he was doomed to lose. An independent on the ballot had a better chance to defeat incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, and the Democrats wanted all anti-Roberts votes to flow to one candidate.

So Taylor dropped out of the race, notifying the Secretary of State just an hour or so before the deadline.

However, the code says that a candidate cannot effect a withdrawal at this late stage unless he is "unable" to perform the duties of office if elected.

Taylor wasn't so "unable" to perform his duties -- he was just unlikely to win.

Election codes are usually interpreted strictly -- unless a Democrat needs them interpreted loosely.

And thus, a new Torricelli Maneuver, assisted by the judiciary, again:

Kansas must remove the name of the Democratic candidate against Republican Sen. Pat Roberts from the ballot, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, in a unanimous ruling that could influence the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.

The court's decision leaves Democrats without a candidate, potentially making it easier for independent candidate Greg Orman to defeat the three-term incumbent. Republicans have counted on Roberts winning re-election in GOP-leaning Kansas as they seek to recapture a Senate majority.

So this one will be harder.

"Pursuant to:" The court based its decision on a strange construction of those words.

[I]t all came down to the meaning of “pursuant to.”

In his brief letter to the secretary of state, Taylor requested his name be withdrawn "pursuant to K.S.A. 25-306b(b)" -- the state law requiring one to be incapable of serving to be removed from the ballot. Citing the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of the phrase as "in compliance with; in accordance with," the court ruled Taylor in his letter "effectively declares he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected."

So even though he did not actually declare his inability to perform, as required by the law, and even though he obviously is not unable to perform (this is simply a tactical maneuver), he said he was withdrawing "pursuant to" the law, and the court will fill in the words for him and Deem and Pass him as having said he could not perform his duties.

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posted by Ace at 06:17 PM

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