Federal Judge Hillman says he can rule in Lewis case; and will render oral decision today

CAMDEN – Federal Judge Noel Hillman just told the court he is prepared to render a decision in Lewis v. Guadagno.

Carl Lewis’s lawyers brought the case here to the judge following a ruling by Secretary of State (Lt. Gov.) Kim Guadagno to remove Lewis from the ballot as a state senate candidate in the 8th Legislative District.

Hillman spent the early part of this proceeding wondering aloud about whether he has a jurisdictional role here in a state case. While sensitive to the division of powers, the judge nonetheless finally argued after a short break that in the interest of a looming ballot deadline, he is prepared to render a decision.

Lewis attorney William Tambussi said he wants Hillman to rule on whether Guadagno’s decision violated his client’s equal protection rights.

Tambussi said the state’s insistence on a four-year residency requirement is deficient on its face because the state can give no convincing argument that it is not wholly arbitrary.

Moreover, “The state has allowed this provision to become eroded by inaction,” Tambussi said.

Moments later, GOP counsel Mark Sheridan counterpointed Tambussi’s ongoing objection to the state’s residency requirement.

“The Constitution requires seven years (residency) to run for U.S. Senate,” said the attorney. “To run for the lower house, you have to be a resident for two years. The Supreme Court upheld that.”

Following the logic of his opponent’s argument, Sheridan said Tambussi failed to note how the U.S. Constitution’s use of requirements denies the rights of voters.

Supporting another plank of Guadagno’s argument denying Lewis’s right to run, “Whether he’s (Lewis) a carpetbagger – if he was voting in California two years ago, I would suggest he is,” the attorney said.

Federal Judge Hillman says he can rule in Lewis case; and will render oral decision today