Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday rejected a request by Texas Republicans to block an appeals court ruling that says former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's name must appear on the November ballot.
Democrats are suing to keep DeLay on the ballot, with the former lawmaker's legal troubles becoming a symbol for claims of Republican corruption.
DeLay, who is under indictment in state court in Texas, won a March primary before resigning June 9 from Congress.
Texas Republican Party chairwoman Tina Benkiser requested the delay of the appeals court ruling until Republicans can formally ask the Supreme Court to review the case.
Benkiser and the party's attorney Jim Bopp Jr. were not immediately available for comment. Dani DeLay Ferro, DeLay's spokeswoman and daughter, said in an e-mail she did not have immediate comment.
The case was routed to Scalia, who handles appeals from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The New Orleans-based appeals court last week sided with Democrats' claims that, if DeLay is eligible to run but drops out of the race, the Republican Party cannot substitute another candidate.
Benkiser could file the request with another justice.
"Wow! That was quick," said Cris Feldman, attorney for Texas Democrats who had not yet heard about the stay.
"That was a lightning-quick response. We're very pleased by the court's decision to deny the stay and it's now time to move toward the general election and put this matter behind us," said Feldman.
Election laws allow political parties to replace ineligible candidates as their nominee with someone who would be eligible to serve if elected, the application to the Supreme Court stated.
DeLay is awaiting trial in Texas state court on money laundering alleging that illegal corporate cash helped pay for legislative campaigns in 2002.
Republicans want to pick another nominee to face Democrat Nick Lampson in November.
Lampson's campaign manager said the former congressman is looking forward to an "issue-based" campaign in which Lampson will raise any issues they think voters need to know.
"People know who Tom DeLay is. The challenge for us is to get out there and make sure we define Nick Lampson before they can run an inevitable smear campaign."