High court refuses to throw DeLay off ballot

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused on Monday to put on hold a ruling that Tom DeLay, the indicted former House of Representatives Republican leader, must appear on the November congressional ballot.

Texas Republican Party chairwoman Tina Benkiser had requested an emergency stay of the ruling by a U.S. appeals court until Republicans can formally ask the Supreme Court to review the case.

But Scalia rejected the request, acting just a couple of hours after it was received.

The appeals court ruled last week that the state Republican Party could not replace DeLay, who said he would not seek re-election and resigned from Congress in June after polls showed he might lose his suburban Houston district to a Democrat.

After resigning, DeLay moved to Virginia so the Texas Republican Party chairwoman could declare him ineligible under state election law. But both a federal judge and the appeals court ruled that DeLay must be on the ballot.

Republicans have said the Democrats want to keep DeLay on the ballot to use his legal troubles in Texas over campaign fund-raising and links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to improve Democratic chances in the November election.

Democrats said DeLay should have stepped down before winning the Republican primary in March.

The request for a stay was filed with Scalia because he handles appeals from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued last week’s ruling siding with the Democrats.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba)

© 2006 Reuters