In a unanimous – minus a pair of recusals – decision, the Texas Supreme Court rejected the Texas House Republican Caucus and others’ suit to remove 44 Libertarian Party candidates from the general election ballot. These candidates did not pay a newly required filing fee. The statute establishing the fee has been challenged in state and federal court and remains pending in each.
“The Election Code does not authorize the requested relief,” said the unsigned, per curiam order (PDF). “Although the result in this instance may be that candidates who failed to pay the required filing fee will nevertheless appear on the ballot, this Court cannot deviate from the text of the law.”
A suit brought by Democratic candidates to remove three Green Party candidates from the ballot succeeded in part because it was filed before the statutory deadline for a candidate’s name to be removed from the ballot for any reason. The Republicans’ initial suits were filed on the day of that deadline, too late to permit the remedy it sought, and the Third Court of Appeals dismissed them as moot. “The filing-fee issue could have been raised in a timely action to declare the Libertarian candidates ineligible,” wrote the Court.
Democratic and Republican candidates’ applications for a place on the ballot are governed by Chapter 141, Election Code. Libertarian and Green candidates’ applications for nomination by convention are governed by Chapter 181, Election Code. The suit argued that provisions in Chapter 141 also applied to Chapter 181. “The text of the Code cannot support this construction,” the Court determined.
“The Legislature could have, but did not, make applications for nomination by convention subject to other [Chapter 141] provisions governing applications for a place on the ballot,” wrote the Court. “Instead, it directed that only Sec. 141.031, not the sections on which the relators rely, applies to applications for nomination by convention.”
The Court declined to rule on relators’ alternative prayer for relief: declaring these 44 candidates ineligible. They may seek declaration of ineligibility, which would prevent any of these candidates from taking office were they to win their elections, “in an appropriate venue.”
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