False Start: Court Halts Carl Lewis Senate Campaign Again - Civil Rights Law - U.S. Third Circuit
U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

False Start: Court Halts Carl Lewis Senate Campaign Again

The Carl Lewis Senate bid has encountered another judicial roadblock. Last week, we reported that Lewis won an injunction battle to run for New Jersey’s Eighth Legislative District. On Thursday, Lewis lost the summary judgment war.

At issue was whether Lewis met New Jersey’s four-year state residency requirement to run for office. New Jersey Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, a Republican, said that Lewis did not qualify. After hearing Lewis’s equal protection claims, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that Lewis’s name must be added to the ballot.

The same three-judge panel has since reversed its decision. Thursday, the Third Circuit affirmed the District Court decision barring Lewis from the ballot, finding that Lewis had failed to show that, as applied to him, the four-year state residency requirement for the office of State Senator in New Jersey has treated him unequally.

Lewis had argued that the state residency requirement was established to ensure a candidate's familiarity with local issues and voters' familiarity with the candidate. For Lewis, neither is an issue. The track star was raised in Willingboro, N.J., where he lived until college.

Though Lewis has spent much of his time in California since achieving sports icon status in the '80s, he has a foundation in New Jersey, owns homes in Medford and Mount Laurel, has volunteered as a track coach at Willingboro High School since 2007, and has held a valid New Jersey driver's license since 2006, according to the AP.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals initially sided with Lewis, in a decision that would have nullified the state residency requirement. Now, the Court has rejected Lewis's equal protection claims, finding that "Lewis cannot point to a similarly situated person who, having voted as a citizen of another state less than three years before a general election in New Jersey, was deemed eligible to run for statewide office."

Considering the amount of time New Jersey politicians spend in court, we think Lewis will attempt another appeal.

Related Resources: