“I’m very disappointed in our justice system. There doesn’t seem to be any justice.”
–Tom DeLay, yesterday, on Houston’s KTRK-TV.
DeLay was referring, of course, to a series of rulings barring the Republican Party of Texas from declaring him ineligible to run as the Republican nominee for Congress from District 22 and replacing him on the ballot.
The legal arguments have been aired many times, including in this blog, and require no further analysis. But it seems to me that in the way the ancient Greeks understood justice, in the sense that one gets what one deserves, Tom DeLay got his just desserts. He wanted to get off the ballot because (1) he didn’t want to risk getting beat by Democrat Nick Lampson; (2) his ethical shortcomings might cost the Republicans their majority in the House; and (3) he wanted to use the money in his campaign account for his criminal defense fund. He concocted a move of his residence to Virginia that he had begun planning as early as two months before the Republican primary in which he was a candidate. The move was transparently phony (though well documented), as he continued to own his home in Sugar Land, where he wife continued to reside, and in which he continued to live from time to time.
Had Tom DeLay been a straight-up guy–no Jack Abramoff ties, no long list of ethical rebukes from his peers, no criminal indictment resulting from alleged violations of campaign finance laws in the 2002 state House races–he would never have needed to get off the ballot, would never have needed a criminal defense fund. He would still be House majority leader, if not speaker by now. But he squandered his considerable talents on sleaze. His case wound up in the federal court system that was his favorite target for criticism, as he reveled in threatening to impeach activist federal judges–that is, any federal judge whose rulings he disagreed with. Well, judges read more than lawbooks. They read the newspapers, too. DeLay had a fair hearing at every level of the federal system–district court, Fifth Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court–and lost each time. As usual, DeLay’s response is to blame the courts. The result of his actions, including his decision to withdraw from the race rather than run, is that the Republicans’ only chance to hold on to DeLay’s seat is a write-in campaign. No justice? Sounds like justice to me.