Judge rules against Kucinich on Democrat's loyalty oath
Judge rules against Kucinich on Democrat's loyalty
Presidential candidate left off primary ballot may
By W. Gardner Selby
Saturday, January 12, 2008
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Friday rejected
presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich's challenge to
a loyalty oath required of presidential candidates by
the Texas Democratic Party.
Barring a successful appeal, Yeakel's ruling means
Kucinich's name will not be on the party's March 4
Don McTigue, an Ohio lawyer for Kucinich, said he
would confer with the Ohio congressman on whether to
appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Kucinich and musician Willie Nelson, a supporter,
filed a lawsuit last week accusing the party of
violating the candidate's constitutional rights by not
putting him on the ballot.
Kucinich had attempted to file as a candidate without
agreeing entirely to a loyalty pledge; he scratched
out a portion stating that he would support the
party's nominee for president, whoever it is. The
party said the pledge could not be altered and that
Kucinich's filing could not be accepted.
Yeakel noted that candidates are free to interpret the
oath pretty much as they please and said he did not
find it "to be a burden of such an extent that it
mandates striking down the oath."
He said that the oath "may be inartfully worded, may
be, in fact, an anachronism," but it is "legally
Yeakel also noted that Kucinich accepted the Texas
oath when he ran for president in 2004. Kucinich drew
nearly 2 percent of the vote in the 2004 Texas
primary, placing seventh in the field.
McTigue said Kucinich's concern that a nominee would
employ war as an instrument of foreign policy has
escalated since 2004. He noted that GOP presidential
candidates don't have to take a similar oath in Texas
and argued that Democrats had failed to explain why
the oath is required for presidential aspirants and
not candidates for other offices.
Gary Yokie of Houston, Kucinich's Texas campaign
coordinator, said that if Kucinich doesn't get on the
primary ballot, his supporters will have options. For
instance, they could flock to another candidate, such
as Cynthia McKinney, a former Democratic U.S. House
member seeking the Green Party's nomination.
Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party,
said the oath is required by rules adopted by
delegates to the party's state convention.
Speaking personally, he said, "If people want to have
the benefit of running under a particular party's
banner, they ought to be willing to support that