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Petty withdraws lawsuit against Hecht

A couple of weeks ago, Democratic Supreme Court candidate Michele Petty filed a lawsuit that sought to determine if her opponent, Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, had fulfilled his legal requirement to gather petition signatures from 50 registered voters in each of the state’s 14 appeals court districts. Petty alleged some technical violations in the petitions, and said at the time that if further investigation revealed that these did not merit Hecht’s removal from the ballot, she would drop the lawsuit. On Wednesday, she did just that.

Michele Petty

In a motion to dismiss her lawsuit, Petty told the Travis County District Court that her investigation revealed that voters “understood what they were doing” when they signed the petitions.

“Petty felt it would not be fair to invalidate their signatures because of error on the part of the circulators or notary,” said the filing.

[…]

However, Petty invited the Legislature to address the issue, noting that judicial petitions are a frequent source of legal challenges. Only Republicans and Democrats must collect signatures from 50 registered voters in each of the state’s 14 appeals court districts, she noted, while Green and Libertarian candidates do not.

“These different requirements raise constitutional questions as to whether Democrats or Republicans should be eliminated from the ballot due to petitions,” Petty wrote, asking lawmakers to end the practice.

Republican and Democratic leaders, however, have favored the petition requirement as a way to weed out fringe candidates for low-visibility judicial posts.

Maybe they should consider extending that requirement to State Board of Ed candidates. Be that as it may, I commend her for being true to her word. I also think that perhaps a better way to approach this is to make the petitions available online but only allow them to be downloaded and printed if these required fields are entered correctly first. Why make it a bigger deal than it needs to be?

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2 Comments

  1. mark ash says:

    Ms. Petty was petty in her lawsuit. As the libertarian party candidate for the Texas Supreme Court and Ms. Petty’s opponent, I am glad that no signature requirements were needed for my candidacy. However, it should be noted that the judicial candidates for the major political parties can avoid these petty signature requirements by paying the appropriate judicial candidate fee required by the major political parties. Money solves the problem. Whether any filing fee or signatures should be required should be left up to the political parties themselves and not the legislature. The political process should be free of any legislative mandates. Different requirements for different political parties do not raise constitutional issues. Candidates and voters are free to choose the political party that best suits their needs and political beliefs.

  2. Mr. Ash is incorrect, and misrepresents the law. Money does not solve the problem. A Filing fee of $3750.00 plus 700 valid signatures is required or 5000 valid signatures for Republican and Democratic Supreme Court Candidates. Further, there are particular residence requirements for a set number of petition signatories. These are legislative requirements and as such they do raise constitutional issues. Petty and Hecht each paid the filing fee plus obtained signatures.

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