Below is a press release from the Harris County, Texas Libertarian Party on December 2, 2019:
On Monday, December 2, 2019, Judge Kristen Hawkins, Judge in Harris County’s 11th Judicial District, signed a temporary injunction order barring the Secretary of State and Harris County officials from enforcing a new law imposing filing fees payable to the government on third parties in order to be placed on the general election ballot.
A number of Harris County citizens seeking to be nominated by the Libertarian Party filed the lawsuit, styled Dikeman v. Hughs, against Ruth Hughs as the Texas Secretary of State, Lina Hidalgo as the Harris County Judge, and Diane Trautman as Harris County Clerk. The first named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Neal Dikeman, who represented the Libertarian Party of Texas as its nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018.
In the order just released, the Court enjoined the Secretary of State and other defendants from “refusing to certify third-party nominees for the general-election election ballot on the ground that the nominee did not pay a filing fee or submit a petition in lieu thereof at the time of filing or any other time,” and from “refusing to accept or rejecting applications for nomination from third-party candidates on the grounds that the applicant did not pay a filing fee or submit a petition in lieu thereof at the time of filing or at any other time.”
In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed HB 2504. That law forced third party nominees to pay a filing fee to the state or county treasuries in order to be placed on the general election ballot, the first time Texas has ever charged any party’s nominees to be on the general election ballot. (See the new Texas Election Code 141.041 created by HB 2504.)
Compounding the harm, the Texas Secretary of State issued an advisory that required all candidates seeking to be nominees to comply with the law and declaring that the fees or petitions would be due at the time of filing on December 9.
The Court issued findings, including:
- The candidate-eligibility requirements imposed by the new Texas Election Code 141.041 “implicate Plaintiffs’ basic constitutional rights guaranteed by both the Texas and U.S. Constitutions, including their right to freedom of association.”
- “Plaintiffs have presented evidence that the [Secretary of State’s] Advisory violates the Texas Election Code . . .”
“This temporary injunction was a crucial step to ensuring voters have choice at the ballot box, as half of all Texas races in 2018 would have been unopposed without Libertarian Party nominees,” said Harris County Libertarian Party Chair Kathie Glass, who represented the plaintiffs.
“It is a testament to the impact the Libertarian Party has made and the future of Texas as a battleground state that the Republican controlled state legislature has attempted to chill our candidate recruitment, tax Libertarian candidates to subsidize state funded Republican and Democratic primaries, and interfere in our internal convention process to select our nominees,” Neal Dikeman said.
The order noted that that Court reviewed an order entered last week in a separate federal case in which the Libertarian Party of Texas is a plaintiff, denying an injunction, and found, “That order is not binding on this Court. Additionally, it is distinguishable and not persuasive authority regarding the issue presented to this Court.”
The order granting the temporary injunction can be found by clicking here.