For those just getting around to shopping for last Christmas, Pocket Constitutions make great stocking-stuffers. Several Republican legislators in Texas appear in desperate need of a US Constitution. Here's the problem: Beyond leaving a copy in each of their stockings, someone will have to read it to them, and then understand it for them.
Socratic Gadfly posted an item Sunday, linking to a pair of articles on Ballot Access News (one and two). It's a good thing we don't pay these clowns more than a per diem, because they're wasting precious time filing bills destined to be overturned in court. The Legislature packs a lot of serious business into its five-month session, or at least it's supposed to.
Any Texas lieutenant governor worthy of the office would take one look at these bills and give them a speedy burial in the Senate Calendar Committee. Sadly, we have Dan Patrick in that position. On the House side, we'd best hope that the appropriate committee chair knows unconstitutionality when he or she sees it.
Gadfly noted that Fear of Libertarians may have something to do with HB 1061 filed by Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving). Rinaldi's bill would make third-party ballot access even more difficult in Texas. Last November, Railroad Commission candidate Mark Miller cleared the 5% hurdle to keep the L's on the ballot for 2018—the first candidate to do so in modern times in a race with both major parties participating.
If no statewide Libertarian candidate reaches 5% in the midterm election, they lost that ballot line. If these bills are adopted, getting back on the ballot will be that much more difficult.
The Greens, as reported here previously, lost their ballot line in November, and must rebuild for 2018.
Jim Riley's comment on the Ballot Access article regarding HB 1061 is more informative by far than the actual article:
The aim of the bill is to prevent voters from picking their party on election day, based on who was running. A voter might choose a primary based on the candidates running. In Texas, the Democratic primary for major offices might not be contested, so conceivably voters could vote in Republican primary, and then vote for the Democrat in the general election.
Riley also addresses the unconstitutionality of bills like this, as the Supreme Court held in Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut (1986):
Tashjian said that Connecticut had to let independent voters vote for Republican nominees for certain offices. Of course, Justice [Thurgood] Marshall was wrong with respect to splitting offices. Section IV is pure gobbledygook. See Justice [John Paul] Stevens['s] dissent to understand why.
i.e.: Someone who has registered as Republican or Democrat may not sign a petition for another party's ballot drive, whether or not that person participated in a primary. This could be construed as denying voters the right to petition for redress of grievances, even if the grievance is only that the two major parties are not serving the public good adquately.
The Bill may undergo some amending to bring it within the bounds of the Constitution. Registering as Independent (or No Party, as they call it in Oklahoma and elsewhere) may still afford a voter a chance to sign a petition. It's still up in the air.
Even with all the mights and might-nots, it's awfully irritating that any legislator, from any party, is trafficking in such blatantly anti-democratic crap—unless you're one of those who is perfectly content with two and only two political parties.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.