TRAFICANT CASE Special election needed?

The governor contends a special congressional election would have been costly.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Gov. Bob Taft should have scheduled a special election in 2002 to fill the vacancy created when James A. Traficant Jr. was kicked out of Congress for a bribery conviction, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union told an appeals court. Taft had a constitutional obligation to call the special election to fill Traficant's seat and erred by deciding not to do so, the ACLU's lawyers told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
The ACLU sued on behalf of residents of Traficant's 17th Congressional District, which covered Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, after the Democrat was convicted of racketeering, bribery and fraud and then expelled from Congress.
The ACLU said the U.S. Constitution requires a special election any time there is a vacancy in congressional representation and that leaving Traficant's seat empty for any length of time deprived his constituents of a voice in Congress.
State's arguments
But Ohio's lawyers said Taft had authority to decline a special election in this case because Traficant's interim replacement would have served only a minimal time -- about five weeks -- between the special election and the regular election in November 2002. The ACLU failed to prove that Taft did not have that discretion, his lawyers said.
Taft also said a special election would have been too costly and could have confused voters in a district that had just been redrawn because of population shifts documented by the 2000 census.
Appeals Judges Boyce Martin Jr., James Ryan and Karen Moore didn't say when they will rule. The appeals court had rejected the ACLU's request in September 2002 for an immediate order that Taft call the special election. The ACLU had requested the emergency order pending the appeal itself, which was argued Wednesday. Traficant is serving an eight-year sentence at a federal prison in White Deer, Pa.
Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat and former member of Traficant's staff, was elected to fill the seat.