Court won't hear Carl Lewis case

HADDONFIELD, N.J. -- New Jersey's Supreme Court said Friday that it won't weigh in on whether Carl Lewis is eligible to run for the state Senate, a decision that keeps the former Olympic star on the ballot, for now.

A denial of certification signed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said the key constitutional issue is already being litigated in federal court.

Lewis is running as a Democrat in southern New Jersey's Republican-dominated 8th District. The nine-time Olympic gold medalist -- one of the world's most decorated track stars -- is the only Democrat on the ballot. Incumbent Dawn Marie Addiego is unopposed in the Republican primary.

New Jersey Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, a Republican who is also the elected lieutenant governor, ruled last week that Lewis doesn't meet a four-year residency requirement for the office.

Lewis appealed in state court, contending that he has lived in New Jersey the required four years.

The athlete grew up in the state, went to college in Texas and had been based in California. But he's owned homes in New Jersey since 2005 and has been a volunteer track coach at his alma mater, Willingboro High School, since 2007. He still has a home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a business in Los Angeles. And he's voted in California as recently as 2009. He only registered to vote in New Jersey last month as he declared his candidacy.

Lewis is also challenging the constitutionality of the residency requirement in federal court.

A rapid-fire series of state and federal court rulings upheld Guadagno's decision to take Lewis off the ballot.

But Lewis won one victory, which is enough to keep his hope alive. A federal appeals court panel ruled Thursday that his name must be included on the ballot for the June 7 primary.

The legal case now rests with a federal district judge, who could possibly remove Lewis from the general election ballot, even though he's included in the primary.