Conservative opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have asked an appeals court to force the city secretary to certify the signatures on their petitions to force a repeal referendum on the November ballot.
Equal rights ordinance critics filed a request late Monday with Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals for an emergency writ of mandamus that would compel the city secretary to certify their rejected petition.
The filing marks the latest legal wrangling over the group’s lawsuit, already scheduled to be heard in state district court Friday. The suit claims City Attorney David Feldman illegally inserted himself into the petition verification process, throwing out entire pages of signatures based on notary and signature-gathering mistakes.
Jared Woodfill, one of the plaintiffs, said Russell’s original count should be validated. The writ of mandamus the group is seeking would compel Russell to verify signatures based solely on whether those who signed the petition are registered Houston voters and disregard the notary requirements Feldman considered.
“The people need to decide this as soon as possible,” Woodfill said.
If the group cleared the signature threshold, the ballot language immediately would go before City Council.
Feldman said the group’s filing largely mirrors the suit already pending in state court.
“They’re effectively trying to get two bites at the same apple,” Feldman said. “Substantively, we’re really dealing with the same issues.”
That’s what I think, too, but as always I Am Not A Lawyer, so don’t take my advice. In any event, the writ of mandamus is here, and the case information is here. If you look very closely at the Parties section, you might notice a small misspelling. For the record, this is Anise, and this is Annise. Slight difference.
One more thing:
Woodfill said the group has until the end of the month to get the issue on the November ballot. However, he said he anticipates that even if the court of appeals grants the group’s request, there will be a “battle” to meet that deadline.
I’ve noted this before, but according to the Secretary of State, the deadline for any referendum or measure to be put on a ballot is Monday, August 18, which is 78 days before the election. This is a matter of Texas law. I’m not sure what Woodfill thinks the deadline is or why, but I’m pretty sure it’s August 18.