DiMaio re-files political lawsuit

04/10/08 Seán Kinane
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A federal lawsuit asking that Florida’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention be seated was amended and re-filed yesterday.

Previously a Tampa judge had said that Tampa Democrat Victor DiMaio did not show that he had standing to file the lawsuit against the national party, the DNC. But in a press conference today, DiMaio’s attorney, Michael Steinberg said the new lawsuit proves DiMaio’s standing.

Steinberg said the lawsuit also adds a count claiming that the DNC violated the Civil Rights Act by using race as a primary factor in allowing South Carolina and Nevada to schedule primary elections before Florida.

Steinberg thinks a judge will agree that DiMaio and other Florida Democrats were discriminated against on the basis of race by the DNC by punishing the state for moving its 2008 presidential primary election ahead of South Carolina and Nevada.

Steinberg’s client, Victor DiMaio, said that the lawsuit’s claim that the DNC violated the Civil Rights Act is in addition to the claim that the national party violated the 14th Amendment’s requirement of equal protection. That claim remains in the lawsuit. But the DNC opened itself up to an additional challenge based on the Civil Rights Act, according to DiMaio, because it receives federal funding.

Sen. Bill Nelson had filed a separate lawsuit which also was seeking to get Florida’s delegates seated. DiMaio said there were sworn affidavits in that lawsuit in which the DNC responded to claims of racial discrimination from Congress Member Alycee Hastings.

DiMaio’s lawsuit was originally filed in August 2007 after the DNC had promised to strip Florida of all 210 of its voting delegates to the Democratic National Nominating Convention at the convention in Denver. DiMaio hopes that if his lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court, the conservative body will be sympathetic to hear a case of reverse discrimination.

In addition to getting Florida’s delegates seated, DiMaio hopes his lawsuit will cause the Democratic Party to revise the way that primaries are ordered.

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