N E W O R L E A N S, Dec. 7, 2000 -- Dick Cheney is a Wyoming resident andtherefore would be constitutionally qualified to serve as George W.Bush’s vice president, a federal appeals court ruled today.
The ruling came from the bench after an hour-long hearing inwhich lawyers for three Texas residents argued that Cheney hadmoved to Bush’s home state of Texas when he took a job there in1993.
The 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents thepresident and vice president from living in the same state.
The three-judge appellate panel took a short recess after thearguments, then Judge Patrick Higginbotham returned to say withoutelaboration that the panel was in agreement that Cheney clearly isa Wyoming resident.
Higginbotham was appointed by former President Reagan. Theothers—Rhesa H. Barksdale and Jacques L. Wiener Jr.—wereappointed by former President Bush.
Plaintiffs Are Ready to Appeal
The three plaintiffs are prepared to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court ifthe appeals court sides with a lower court judge, said James Jones,one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
“It’s an important constitutional question,” Jones said.“It’s one that Bush and Cheney have tried to finesse, but I thinkit’s one that deserves serious attention.”
U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater, a Republican appointed byPresident Reagan, ruled Friday that Cheney has proven he “has botha physical presence within the state of Wyoming and the intent thatWyoming be his place of habitation.”
Cheney spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss predicted the appealwould fail. A similar lawsuit filed in Florida was dismissed Nov.20.
“We just think they have no legal grounds and that the caseitself is baseless,” she said. “At some point, they’re going tohave to take stock and realize this dog don’t hunt.”
Dallas Home Since 1993
Cheney, a former Wyoming congressman, lived in Dallas while hewas chairman of Halliburton Co. until he changed his votingregistration to Teton County, Wyo., on July 21 — four days beforebecoming Bush’s running mate.
He or his wife have owned a home in Dallas since 1993, but haveentered into a contract to sell the property, which was listed for$3.1 million. Cheney, who was defense secretary under PresidentGeorge Bush, also owns property in McLean, Va.
Jones said Cheney’s house was listed as “owner-occupied” whenit was put on the market in November.
The plaintiffs are Dallas-area residents Stephen E. Jones, aTexas Wesleyan University law student, and Linda D. Lydia andCaroline Franco, both housewives. The suit named Bush, Cheney,Texas Secretary of State Elton Bomer and the 32 Texas electors asdefendants.
Weiss said the plaintiffs are Democrats, but Jones said he didnot know his clients’ party affiliations.