Rick Perry Is Suing Virginia Over Primary Ballot Exclusion? UPDATE: ‘It Appears That Rick Perry Is Right’
Posted on | December 28, 2011 | 30 Comments
Or, “Rich Ferrous Vein Discovered In Irony Mine”. From the WaPoo:
Perry’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, contends that the state Republican chairman and members of the State Board of Elections violated Perry’s constitutional rights by enforcing state requirements for the gathering of signatures.
The suit maintains that Perry was unable to submit the required number of signatures because of the board’s “requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.”
That requirement substantially limits the number of people who could circulate petitions and thus “imposes a severe burden” on Perry’s freedoms of speech and association, the lawsuit argued. It cites the Constitution’s First and 14th amendments.
The lawsuit also challenges on the same grounds requirements regarding the number of signatures and the qualifications for signers.
I mean, isn’t Rick from “Don’t mess with” Texas? Haven’t the Virginia rules, while arguably onerous, been published a long time? While not a 10th Amendment call, doesn’t this very suit kind of trample the notion of federalism? If the Virginia primary was Newt’s Pearl Harbor, does this suit risk turning it into Perry’s Alamo?
Snark aside, unless he can show that the VA GOP deliberately rigged this primary, on which point I am really skeptical, the whole effort seems misguided. Sure, the GOP may here may be reading the rules closely, and sticking to the un-anointed, establishment candidates, but they’re still the rules.
Reached for comment, Hayao Miyazaki had this to say:
But what has not been reported is that in the only other presidential primaries in which Virginia required 10,000 signatures (2000, 2004, and 2008) the signatures were not checked. Any candidate who submitted at least 10,000 raw signatures, on notarized sheets, and which had at least 400 signatures from each U.S. House district, was put on the ballot. In 2000, five Republicans qualified: George Bush, John McCain, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, and Steve Forbes. In 2004 there was no Republican primary in Virginia. In 2008, six Republicans qualified: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson (an earlier version of this post erroneously said Alan Keyes qualified in 2008, but he only qualified in 2000).
The only reason the Virginia Republican Party checked the signatures for validity for the current primary is that in October 2011, an independent candidate for the legislature, Michael Osborne, sued the Virginia Republican Party because it did not check petitions for its own members, when they submitted primary petitions. Osborne had no trouble getting the needed 125 valid signatures for his own independent candidacy, but he charged that his Republican opponent’s primary petition had never been checked, and that if it had been, that opponent would not have qualified. The lawsuit, Osborne v Boyles, cl 11-520-00, was filed in Bristol County Circuit Court. It was filed too late to be heard before the election, but is still pending. The effect of the lawsuit was to persuade the Republican Party to start checking petitions. If the Republican Party had not changed that policy, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry would be on the 2012 ballot.
What I glean here is:
- The rules have NOT BEEN changed.
- Enforcement has been uneven over time.
- The Osborne suit, coming in October 2011, is mighty, mighty convenient. Why, a couple months before the 2012 Presidential election due date, did an independent candidate for state legislature, quite unexpectedly become interested in the internals of the GOP nomination process? I’m not saying That He Elevated Fetishing Internal X-rays Which Any Sane Interlocutor Never cares about to an absurd level, but it would lead one to question the timing if, say, some link between Osborne and one of the campaigns were to surface.
I really hate to see this issue hang over the GOP like a cloud of air pollution. Maybe Ron Paul should get together with Mitt and have Romney’s campaign chair, VA Lt Gov Bill Bolling, set about enforcing the ballot rules in keeping with tradition. If either candidate is confident of his victory anyway, why should they seek to squelch competition? Especially at the cost of giving the GOP elephant such a donkey cast.
Update II: the plot thickens. At the Northern Virginia Tea Party FaceBook page,
Surprisingly, Rick Perry’s lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ballot access petition laws seems to be “spot on.” Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich were kept off Virginia’s GOP primary ballot for the March 6 primary. Rick Perry relies upon the US Supreme Court precedent of BUCKLEY V. AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (97-930) 525 U.S. 182 (1999), in which the US Supreme Court agreed with the District Court: “the requirement of registration limits the number of persons available to circulate and sign [initiative] petitions and, accordingly, restricts core political speech.” THEREFORE, THE REQUIREMENT THAT PETITION GATHERERS MUST BE REGISTERED VOTERS IN VIRGINIA CLEARLY VIOLATES A DECISION BY THE US SUPREME COURT IN 1999. Of course, courts can find any number of reasons to take unexpected twists and turns. But it appears that Rick Perry is right.
My recommendation to the GOP is that this matter be concluded soonest, with Newt and Perry on the ballot. Continued wrestling with the pig is just going to get lipstick everywhere.
Update III: Still further details at Tim Boyer. Has the VA GOP conducted a successful auto-beclownment operation? It may very well have.
Update IV: HotAir has some great detail. Morrissey takes the straightforward approach that this is a competence test for the campaigns. I’m 60% in agreement there, and 40% interested in seeing what the legal fallout from Perry’s suit is. I happen to be of the ‘more is better’ school of thought; even if you’re a Romney or Paul supporter, inoculating your candidate from competition is not necessarily a Good Thing. Could I vote for Ron Paul in a primary as a protest against GOP tomfoolery? It sounds mad, but less so over time. . .