SocraticGadfly: Libertarians sue Texas again over election law; Greens AWOL

December 10, 2021

Libertarians sue Texas again over election law; Greens AWOL

From an edited version of a Libertarian Party of Texas news release:

The Libertarian Party of Texas, along with several individual plaintiffs, represented by Gordon, Arata, Montgomery, Barnett, McCollam, Duplantis & Eagan, LLC filed suit against the Texas Secretary of State, John B. Scott and Texas Deputy Secretary of State Jose A. Esparaza. The complaint asserts that Section 181.0311 of the Texas Election Code requiring third party candidates to pay a fee, or submit a petition in lieu thereof, in order to be considered for nomination is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights to free speech, free association, and equal protection.

In Texas, filing fees paid by Republican and Democrat candidates are used to offset the cost of primary elections, which are largely paid from the General Fund, utilizing taxpayer dollars. In contrast, ballot-qualified Libertarian Party and Green Party candidates do not participate in primaries, and instead participate in Party-funded nominating conventions. Additionally, fees paid by primary party candidates go to their Parties, while non-primary candidates are required to submit payment to the Secretary of State, thus to the general fund.

“The passage of H.B. 2504 in 2019 began the Texas Legislature's attack on free and fair elections and we are taking the necessary steps to protect voters’ rights. By passing S.B. 2093 this year and continuing their war against competition at the polls, while simultaneously claiming to want real election reform, Republicans and Democrats once again prove they are more than willing to work together so long as it ensures voters only have the two of them to choose between. Electing our representatives is a fundamental practice of liberty and to deny Texas voters a choice at the ballot box is antithetical to representative democracy,” Libertarian Party of Texas Chair Whitney Bilyeu said in conjunction with the filing of the suit.

The state’s claimed legitimate interest in only having candidates who’ve demonstrated a modicum of support appear on the ballot is already met for those applying through a ballot-qualified convention party, Nathan Moxley of the Libertarian Party of Texas said in a news release.

Additionally, third parties may only place one candidate on the ballot for each race, thus eliminating any danger of ballot overcrowding. Plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief and an overturning of this unconstitutional legislation.

OK, my further take.

Given that Bilyeu lives in Harris County, heartland of Texas Greens (the fact that Greens are thin on the ground in Travis County says something both about the Green Party and about environmentalism there), surely some Greens know about this. They may have known when it was filed. It's sad that this isn't a "bipartisan third party" filing. I assume that Greens don't even have a friendly brief of support filed. Of course, as I Tweeted snarkily yesterday, I'm talking about a state party that has had two Tweets in the past month.

The suit is here.

That said, re HB 2504? Living in Drew Springer's district, I'm quite familiar with its ramifications, as well as with the unified Libertarian-Green federal lawsuit over that and related issues, which is part of why I don't like that this one isn't, so far at least, "bipartisan." I also, in relation to my non-snarky snark, and the "two Tweets" (and nothing on the Texas Greens website) blogged a couple of months after the federal suit about the Texas Greens' disorganization at that time, among other things. That old shibboleth/bugaboo of "consensus" (a wrong turn that may or may not be over-extrapolating from the Ten Key Values, which don't mention the idea) continues to bite. I've blogged before about the overinterpretation of the "decentralization" issue. You know who else has required 2/3 supermajorities? The old cloture standard of the U.S. Senate. The Democratic Party on presidential nominations until 1936. In both cases, driven by Southern white racism giving a minority veto power.

Back to the suit itself. It surely will not be heard enough in advance of the March 1 primary date and Libertarian and Green state conventions for candidates of those parties to get judicial relief, if a jury (if jury verdict is being sought) were to rule in favor, and an injunction is unlikely, IMO, given how the state Supreme Court tipped its hand in 2020 re HB 2504 and candidacies then.

No comments: