Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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In this election contest for a city council seat the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming a sanctions award, vacated that award, and then dismissed the appeal of the election contest as moot, holding that the appeal was moot to the extent it challenged the election results but that the award of sanctions was an abuse of discretion. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the contestee, the candidate who received the most votes, and declared the contest the winner of the election. The court then awarded sanctions against the contester, the losing candidate, and her attorney for bringing frivolous claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The contester and her attorney appealed again, challenging the election and sanctions. Meanwhile, the contestee was reelected and began his second term in office. The Supreme Court held (1) the election contest is now moot, and no exception to the mootness doctrine applies; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in sanctioning Appellants for making non-frivolous arguments, and the court of appeals erred in affirming the sanctions. View "Pressley v. Casar" on Justia Law

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The Texas Democratic Party sued King Street Patriots (Defendant) alleging noncompliance with Election Code provisions imposing restraints and obligations on “political committees” and corporations. Defendant, in turn, argued that certain statutory provision impermissibly burdened its constitutional rights. The parties agreed to sever Defendant’s facial challenges from its as-applied challenges. Following severance, the trial court found the challenged Election Code provisions facially valid. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) legislatively enacted bans on corporate political contributions are constitutional under the First Amendment; (2) the Legislature’s public policy choice to authorize a private right of action passes constitutional muster; (3) the Election Code’s campaign contribution and political contribution definitions are not unconstitutionally vague; and (4) as to Plaintiff’s challenge to the Code’s political committee definitions, that issue is premature and prudentially unripe. Specifically, adjudication of Plaintiff’s facial challenge to the political committee definitions is premature because Plaintiff is not a political committee, and therefore, Plaintiff’s as-applied challenges should be adjudicated before facial constitutionality of the political committee definitions is determined. View "King Street Patriots v. Texas Democratic Party" on Justia Law

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Political parties may apply to the Secretary of State for state funds to reimburse expenses connected with administering primary elections. After Wendy Davis was certified as the Democratic nominee for State Senate District 10 in the primary election, Davis’s Republican opponent sued to remove Davis from the general election ballot. The challenge failed, and Davis prevailed in the general election. The state and county Democratic Party chairpersons subsequently applied for reimbursement of attorney’s fees related to defending the challenge to Davis’s candidacy. The Secretary of State declined to reimburse the legal expenses to the Democratic Party because the party incurred those expenses after the primary election and in connection with the general election. The district court upheld the Secretary’s decision. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the legal expenses were plainly connected to the primary election because they were based on Davis’s alleged constitutional ineligibility to appear on the primary election ballot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Secretary did not abuse his discretion in denying the requested reimbursement from the primary election fund, as the Secretary is not obligated to reimburse a political party for legal expenses incurred in defending its nominee’s right to appear on the general-election ballot. View "Cascos v. Tarrant County Democratic Party" on Justia Law