News of the lawsuit appeared in the Houston Chronicle (paywall) more than a week ago. The Green and Libertarian Parties both received mention in the headline. The Texas Tribune got its version of the story out on 11 July, and RawStory picked it up the next day.
Palmer herself is listed as a plaintiff, sharing billing with the Libertarian, Constitution, and America's Parties of Texas. TSU law professor Thomas Kleven, who in 2016 ran for Congress in TX-18, also appears on the list.
But...HB 2504! Why Sue Now?
In light of HB 2504 becoming state law this year, guaranteeing Texas Greens a ballot line through 2026, why would GPTX press the issue via a lawsuit? Why would the Libertarians and Railroad Commission candidate Mark Miller, who pulled off a 5% coup in a four-way race in 2016, join in?
The simple answer is that the requirements for ballot access remain unConstitutionally burdensome in the eyes of the plaintiffs. The Constitution and America's Parties, and any other party that seeks a ballot line in Texas, still must come up with a literal truckload of petition signatures. The America's Party is currently gearing up for a petition drive in 2020, which will require collecting more than 89,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Texas, or 1% of the total votes for governor in 2018. Since one of every three signatures is likely to be found invalid, the true number of people they must convince to sign is closer to 135,000.
If, between now and 2026, the Greens should fail to achieve the statutory 2% of the vote in a statewide race to maintain their place on the ballot, they would have to go through the same ordeal. Same for the Libertarians after 2028. Both parties has conducted multiple petition drives, occasionally successful but mostly not.
It's also worth noting that this lawsuit was in the works years ago, before Rep. Drew Springer modified his bill to award ballot access to any party who has pulled off a 2% vote-count over the last five statewide elections. Certainly, Greens can celebrate getting back on the ballot thanks to the enactment of HB 2504, but they must recognize that the battle for electoral justice is far from over.
A History of Collaboration
It's quite encouraging to me that GPTX has signed on as a plaintiff, and that the Center for Competitive Democracy is providing legal representation pro bono. When the Texas Democrats sued GPTX following the 2010 petition drive, the legal team left the Greens with a five-digit legal bill. How much of that GPTX actually paid is a matter of some mystery; the legal team was not very persistent in its collections.
It's equally encouraging to see Greens participating in a coalition of plaintiffs on this issue, one of the few that the four parties involved have in common. Greens and other Progressives may night find much to like in the Constitutionalists' or America's Party platforms, or vice versa, but they can agree that the partisan duopoly's continual efforts to thwart third parties is anti-democratic. This is especially true in the era of safe seats, when so many legislative races have but a single big-party candidate.
This cross-party cooperation is hardly unprecedented. During the Greens' lean years, 2002 to 2010, the Greens held several public fora on this issue, in conjunction with the Libertarians, the Constitutionalists, and the Reform Party (RIP Ross Perot). In those fora, the spokespeople for the various parties gave their perspectives on ballot access for "minor" parties without turning their speeches into party political broadcasts or slamming the other parties present.
Such collaboration is good practice for when, eventually, we have a healthy multi-party system (hey, I can dream, can't I?). Parties can work together on legislation they support, regardless of how their platforms clash otherwise. The Greens and Libertarians hold very similar positions on reeling in the US's imperialistic military presence overseas and legalizing recreational substances such as cannabis. The Constitution and America's Parties hold very similar positions on...well, almost everything.
I'm not saying that I'll race out and help the America's Party with its 2020 petition drive, as I find their positions against same-sex marriage and reproductive choice pretty repellant. But as long as they don't devolve into actual Nazis, I support their right to participate in elections. I feel that any Green who cherishes the First Amendment should support that right as well.