During a hearing before the federal appellate court that decided last week Lewis could run for the New Jersey legislature, Judge Thomas Ambro said he was "hung up" on the fact that the gold medalist had voted in California in 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Lewis, a native of Willingboro, N.J., who plans to run for the state Senate as a Democrat has owned property in New Jersey since 2005 and bought his current house in 2007, but Republicans argue he does not meet the state's four-year residency requirement.
"Mr. Lewis voted two years, in 2008 and 2009, in California, so he was presumably domiciled there," Ambro said. "You cannot be domiciled in New Jersey until you cease being domiciled in California, and that happened at this point well after May of 2009."
Tuesday's hearing followed a ruling by the appellate court last week agreeing to a request by Republicans to rehear an earlier decision to allow Lewis to remain on the ballot in New Jersey. State courts had ruled Lewis was not eligible to run.
Lawyers were told before Tuesday's hearing the court was interested in three questions -- can someone be domiciled in two states at the same time; what are California's requirements to be a voter there; and what power do federal courts have to interpret laws on state elections.
William Tambussi, representing Lewis, argued his client's absentee ballot voting in California "is one factor to consider" but is not "a dispositive factor," The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.