Texas Republicans on Monday abandoned their court fight to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the November ballot after being turned back by the Supreme Court. The decision came after Justice Antonin Scalia, earlier in the afternoon, rejected Texas Republicans' request to block an appeals court ruling saying DeLay's name should remain on the ballot.
Republicans had requested the stay earlier in the day in order to prepare their full appeal.
Democrats were suing to keep DeLay on the ballot, with the former lawmaker's legal troubles becoming a symbol for claims of Republican corruption.
DeLay won a March primary before resigning June 9 from Congress.
Texas Republican Party chairwoman Tina Benkiser requested a delay of the appeals court ruling until Republicans can formally ask the Supreme Court to review the case.
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 have filed the request with another justice.
"Wow! That was quick," said Cris Feldman, attorney for Texas Democrats, after hearing about Scalia denying 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 and conspiracy charges 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.
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NBC's Joel Siedman and Pete Williams contributed to this report.