DOVER, Del. — Lawyers for Democratic Gov. John Carney are rejecting the notion that he should be held in contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s ruling invalidating a state mandate for political balance among judges.

In a filing Wednesday, Carney’s lawyers say the December ruling does not direct him to do, or not do, anything, and that he has discretion to consider political affiliation when nominating judges.

That comes after a notice two weeks ago indicating that Carney expects to appoint a Democrat for a Superior Court vacancy according not just to his preference, but also to a constitutional “mandate.”

That prompted an attorney who successfully challenged the political balance mandate to ask that Carney be held in contempt.

Carney is fighting the federal court ruling, using private-sector attorneys hired at taxpayer expense.