SocraticGadfly: Judge Pitman just fucked over third-party candidates in Texas

September 29, 2022

Judge Pitman just fucked over third-party candidates in Texas

Per the federal lawsuit filed by Texas Libertarians, Texas Greens, and other third parties and independent candidates in 2019, blogged about by me at the time, in depth, here ...

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman officially fucked over the plaintiffs. Summary judgment for Texas Secretary of State (then Ruth Hughs) on all but one item, per the ruling. Via Ballot Access News, and contra the first commenter, allowing petition e-signatures is NOT significant, whether this is the first such ruling or not.

The meat of the ruling starts on page 18 of the 28 page ruling. Pitman says the signature amounts required are not unduly burdensome, first. He then notes Greens have only had to do that once in the past 16 years and not at all since 2002 for Libertarians, therefore claiming, in essence, that this is nugatory. He then says that lesser third parties who were plaintiffs aren't "active," so, in essence, they don't count. 

Starting on page 24, he rejects that the new filing fees are unduly burdensome. He doesn't even wrestle with the issue of minor parties not being convention-nominating parties. Related to that, on 25ff Pitman rejects the idea that the differential ballot access violates the Equal Protection Clause. He says that's because candidates can do the petition route instead. He did allow the e-signatures, yes, but did not strike down the amount required after saying it's not burdensome and insinuating it's nugatory.

As for details of his ruling on e-signatures? The SoS will likely adopt the most restrictive version possible, meaning, we'll be back in court. And, next year's Lege may, with e-sigs being allowed, decide to up the number of signatures required to, say, 1.5 percent or even a full 2 percent. It's got Pitman's blessing, pretty much. Let's also remember that Pitman did nothing about the restrictive time frame for signing such petitions.

And this is why, contra commenter Mark, I don't consider the e-signatures that big of a deal. In my response, I think I said "due process." I meant the Equal Protection Clause. There's no way, unless he was a total hack like Judge Cannon, that Pitman could have ruled any other way on that issue. Everything else, he told the state of Texas to "carry on." So, if it wants to raise signature requirements or something? It will.

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