New Jersey Supreme Court Won’t Hear Carl Lewis Election Case

The New Jersey Supreme Court won’t hear Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis’s bid to get his name on the ballot for a state senate election in which officials said he’s not eligible to run.

The court’s one-page order denying Lewis’s request to review his constitutional claims follows a federal appeals court ruling temporarily allowing his name on the ballot for the June 7 primary election. The case now hinges on U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman, who must decide the constitutionality of the state’s residency provision as it was applied to Lewis.

“The constitutional issue is now squarely before the district court, where a full factual record can and will be developed,” William M. Tambussi, an attorney for Lewis, said today in an e-mailed statement. “The voters of the Eighth Legislative District retain the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

Lewis, a 49-year-old Democrat, persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to stay an April 26 ruling by New Jersey’s secretary of state that found him ineligible to run for office because he didn’t meet a four-year residency requirement. The appeals court remanded the case to Hillman, who had initially upheld the decision by Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, a Republican who is also the lieutenant governor.

Moved to Texas

Lewis, who grew up in New Jersey before moving to Texas and California, is fighting to represent a district that has traditionally elected Republicans. Incumbent Dawn Marie Addiego, a Republican, was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Phil Haines, who was tapped for a judgeship.

The nine-time Olympic gold medalist argued that he bought a home in New Jersey in 2005, which made him a state resident. He got a state driver’s license in 2006 and became a volunteer assistant track coach at Willingboro High School, his alma mater, in 2007. Guadagno said the record showed Lewis didn’t buy his current home until Nov. 16, 2007, eight days after the cutoff.

The federal case is Lewis v. Guadagno, 1:11-cv-02381, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).

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