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.
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?