Articles Posted in Election Law

by
The Texas Democratic Party sued King Street Patriots (Defendant) alleging noncompliance with Election Code provisions imposing restraints and obligations on “political committees” and corporations. Defendant, in turn, argued that certain statutory provision impermissibly burdened its constitutional rights. The parties agreed to sever Defendant’s facial challenges from its as-applied challenges. Following severance, the trial court found the challenged Election Code provisions facially valid. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) legislatively enacted bans on corporate political contributions are constitutional under the First Amendment; (2) the Legislature’s public policy choice to authorize a private right of action passes constitutional muster; (3) the Election Code’s campaign contribution and political contribution definitions are not unconstitutionally vague; and (4) as to Plaintiff’s challenge to the Code’s political committee definitions, that issue is premature and prudentially unripe. Specifically, adjudication of Plaintiff’s facial challenge to the political committee definitions is premature because Plaintiff is not a political committee, and therefore, Plaintiff’s as-applied challenges should be adjudicated before facial constitutionality of the political committee definitions is determined. View "King Street Patriots v. Texas Democratic Party" on Justia Law

by
Political parties may apply to the Secretary of State for state funds to reimburse expenses connected with administering primary elections. After Wendy Davis was certified as the Democratic nominee for State Senate District 10 in the primary election, Davis’s Republican opponent sued to remove Davis from the general election ballot. The challenge failed, and Davis prevailed in the general election. The state and county Democratic Party chairpersons subsequently applied for reimbursement of attorney’s fees related to defending the challenge to Davis’s candidacy. The Secretary of State declined to reimburse the legal expenses to the Democratic Party because the party incurred those expenses after the primary election and in connection with the general election. The district court upheld the Secretary’s decision. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the legal expenses were plainly connected to the primary election because they were based on Davis’s alleged constitutional ineligibility to appear on the primary election ballot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Secretary did not abuse his discretion in denying the requested reimbursement from the primary election fund, as the Secretary is not obligated to reimburse a political party for legal expenses incurred in defending its nominee’s right to appear on the general-election ballot. View "Cascos v. Tarrant County Democratic Party" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
At issue in this mandamus proceeding was the City of Houston’s equal rights ordinance. Relators - two signers of a referendum petition calling for the repeal of the ordinance - contested the wording of the ballot language. Two days after the City Council adopted the current ballot language, Relators petitioned for emergency and mandamus relief, noting that the deadline for revising the ballot language had not yet passed. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief, directing the City Council to word the proposition such that voters will vote directly for or against the ordinance. View "In re Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
After the Houston City Council adopted an equal rights ordinance, Relators - residents of the City of Houston - organized a petition drive calling for the City Council to repeal the ordinance or put it to popular vote. The City Secretary certified the petition’s sufficiency, but the City Council denied it, claiming that the petition was invalid because it lacked the required number of valid signatures. Relators sought mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted mandamus relief, holding (1) Relators did not have an adequate remedy by way of appeal for lack of sufficient time for the appeal to be finally resolved; and (2) the City Council did not perform its ministerial duty to immediately reconsider the ordinance after the City Secretary certified the petition’s sufficiency and, if it did not repeal it, to put it on the November 2015 ballot. View "In re Jared Woodfill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
A narrow majority of voters in the City of Houston adopted an amendment to their City Charter that was approved in the November 2, 2010 election. The amendment created a “Dedicated Pay-As-You-Go Fund for Drainage and Streets.” After the election, several voters filed an election contest seeking a declaration that the ballot proposition was invalid and a determination that the adoption of the amendment was invalid. The ballot in this case did not make clear that the amendment imposed charges directly on many voters. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the City. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the City did not adequately describe the chief features of the charter amendment on the ballot, the proposed amendment was not submitted with such definiteness and certainty that voters would not be misled. Remanded. View "Dacus v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
In this primary election case, Choco Meza, chair of the county democratic party, determined that petitions filed with Monica Caballero's application for a place on the county democratic party primary election ballot as a candidate for justice of the peace did not contain the required number of valid signatures. Caballero sued Meza, the county democratic party, and the county, and sought injunctive relief precluding them from omitting her name from the ballot. Tomas Uresti, Caballero's opponent, intervened. The trial court subsequently issued a temporary injunction effectively compelling Meza to place Caballero's name on the ballot. Uresti applied for a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to vacate its temporary injunction. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition for mandamus relief as moot, as the primary election, which Meza won, had concluded. View "In re Uresti" on Justia Law

by
Voters sued the Secretary of State arguing that her certification of the eSlate, a paperless direct recording electronic machine, violated the Election Code and the Texas Constitution. At issue was whether voters had standing to pursue complaints about an electronic voting machine that did not produce a contemporaneous paper record of each vote. The court held that because it concluded that most of the voters allegations involved generalized grievances about the lawfulness of government acts, and because their remaining claims failed on their merits, the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment dismissing the case. View "Andrade v. NAACP, et al." on Justia Law