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The Courts Government Politics News

Barr Sues Over McCain's, Obama's Presence on Texas Ballot 918

corbettw writes "Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's nominee for president, has filed a lawsuit in Texas demanding Senators John McCain and Barack Obama be removed from the ballot after they missed the official filing deadline."
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Barr Sues Over McCain's, Obama's Presence on Texas Ballot

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  • by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:05PM (#25065415)

    but I hope they are allowed to run as write-in. Assuming the summary is true.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:40PM (#25065757)

      They've also missed the deadline for running as write-ins. They should rightfully face the same penalties Barr would have to if he made the same mistakes.

      • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:50PM (#25066445) Homepage

        The rule of law would be nice, wouldn't it?

      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:50AM (#25069271) Homepage Journal

        If neither candidate can run on the ballot OR as a write in, that would almost certainly precipitate a nationwide constitutional crisis.

        To win the Presidency in a one on one race, a candidate needs to get 270 electoral votes, because there are a total of 538 votes in the Electoral College. Texas has the 34 electoral votes, meaning that if the electors from Texas were barred from voting for either candidate, Obama would almost certainly win a plurality.

        Except -- the electors aren'tspecifically bound by the constitution to vote for anybody. Theoretically an elector, while elected standing for candidate A, can change his mind and vote for B. About half the states have laws which punish "faithless electors", although the constitutionality of these laws have never been tested. It's doubtful that they are constitutional.

        If Obama wins 270 electoral votes, it won't matter. But if he wins 235 electoral votes it won't matter (because McCain will have 370), although that is unlikely in the extreme.

        If we have anything in between, we have a constitutional crisis. What would be clear is that had the will of Texans been honored according to how the system was supposed to work, then McCain should have won. If some TX electors acting on this theory votes for him, then he will win, but the legitimacy of this win will be questioned by around half of Americans who voted for Obama -- possibly more than half if Obama wins the popular vote. If not enough TX electors vote for McCain to put him over the top, the people who voted for McCain will not recognize the legitimacy of the elections. If each candidate gets exactly 252 votes (I haven't checked whether this is possible mathematically), then the election goes to the House, which will give the Presidency to Obama.

        In any case, in any of these crisis scenarios, the reasonable outcome would be for McCain to get the presidency, because that reflects the will of the peoples as it would have resulted had the proper procedures been followed. But no matter who wins the presidency, the presidency would be deeply weakened -- a happy result for the Libertarians, but potentially disastrous for the country as we navigate some pretty rough waters ahead with a president distracted by legitimacy questions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I totally agree, but they absolutely will be placed on the ballot. Rules mean nothing to these people. The political parties themselves *are* the government, so they are above the law.

  • by rsclient ( 112577 ) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:07PM (#25065439) Homepage
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @02:35AM (#25067665)

      If I read that correctly (I am not a lawyer), then half of Barr's complaint should be legally valid and half should not be.

      McCain could not have filed in time, and so clearly does not (according to the law) belong on the ballot.

      Barr complains that Obama filed, but said before the vote was tallied that he had already been nominated. However as I read the law, the requirement is that the paperwork be filed and certified by the party's state chair. There is stated no requirement that the party's internal procedures have actually been followed in full. Only that they be certified. Since it appears that the party's state chair did, in fact, file and certify the paperwork, Obama should be on the ballot.

      My guess as to what will actually happen here is that a judge will get the case, will rule that Barr has no standing to bring the lawsuit, and will promptly throw the case out of court. Leaving unresolved the question of whether the candidates should, in fact, not be on the ballot. Since nobody can be found with both standing and the desire to sue, they will be on the ballot, and McCain will carry Texas.

      I predict that because this is the only decision that the judge can come to which is consistent with the law and the facts, and will not get the judge lynched.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:10PM (#25065465)

    For two months from now and get this all settled. Oh, what do you mean the election is before then?

  • Great for Obama (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RootsLINUX ( 854452 ) <rootslinux@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:12PM (#25065491) Homepage
    I'm an Obama supporter living in Texas and I think this is actually a great thing to have both McCain and Obama's names removed from the ballot. Texas is a very conservative state, which makes my vote here virtually worthless. But if neither is on the ballot, then the chances of Obama winning the state because of write-ins or Barr (or another 3rd party candidate) winning because their name is on the ballot increases. Basically if John McCain doesn't win Texas, its a very deep blow for him and this lawsuit is pretty much the only shot we have at it.

    When will we abolish this stupid electoral college?
    • I am in favour of the electoral college. I think I'd rather secede than to abolish it. Then again, I am for states' rights.

      • by vthokiestm ( 691839 ) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:35PM (#25065703)
        "Favour"? You seem to have already seceded.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Onan ( 25162 )

        And by "states", I'm guessing you mean the 6 or so states that presidents bother to woo, at the expense of the 44 that they permanently ignore? This is a good deal for states how, exactly?

        Usually when people say "states' rights", they're talking about the championing the rights of states over the rights of the federal government. But to say it in the context of the electoral college, you're championing the rights of states over the rights of voters. That seems like a much harder stance to defend.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This should be about following the law. If Obama supporters turn this into a partisan thing, then it will be Michigan and Florida all over again.
      Obama's stance there was to let the party decide, because the candidates really shouldn't push for election regulations in their favor.
      Obama's stance here will likely be to let the state decide, because it is a state matter and candidates can't bend the law to keep a party in power.
      Obviously both positions favor him, so he will get flamed for it, but they ar
    • Re:Great for Obama (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <(neoprofin) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:23AM (#25066775)
      An interesting thing happened, and I don't know if it ever made it to /. A political group tried to get it enacted that Texas electoral votes would be distributed proportionately rather than all or nothing to take advantage of Texas' large urban areas (the ones that elected your 13 democrat congressmen) effectively turning Texas into a "purple state". I hear it ended right about the time someone threatened to do the same to California and destroy every Democrat presidential campaign for the next decade.(Or because it'd be hard to get something like that pushed through by Republicans in Texas.)

      Pretty much a side note.
    • Re:Great for Obama (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheQuantumShift ( 175338 ) <monkeyknifefight@internationalwaters.com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:41AM (#25066923) Homepage

      "When will we abolish this stupid electoral college?"

      When it stops benefiting those in power. So, never.

  • old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:15PM (#25065511) Journal
    I heard about this a couple weeks ago. Anyhow, the texas filing deadline was before the national conventions, but both parties filed paperwork on time with blank names and amended them afterwards (which is allowed by law). I thought this had already been dismissed, but it's going nowhere.
  • Silly Rabbit... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <semi_famous@nospaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:14PM (#25066079) Homepage Journal
    What if Florida or Ohio decided to pass a law saying that the name of the official major party nominees had to be submitted 180 days before the election?

    A reasonable advance notice to give time to prepare and print ballots is cool, but if Texas was forced to remove the major party candidates from the ballot, it would be like saying that any state, at a whim, could determine a national nomination deadline by setting a ballot deadline.

    IANAL, but I think Obama and McCain could raise a pretty valid constitutional challenge to it that might end up creating a national guideline for ballot deadlines, imposing yet another federal regulation.
    • Re:Silly Rabbit... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:40PM (#25066339)

      There is no legal guidance on the steps taken by a state in choosing how to cast their electoral votes. They could toss a coin and it'd likely be legal depending on THAT STATE'S constitution.

    • Re:Silly Rabbit... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gamanimatron ( 1327245 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:20AM (#25066747) Journal

      What possible legal grounds could a political party - a private organization - have for forcing a state to do anything? Political parties have no constitutional standing; they're just clubs. Clubs of people who have very effectively fooled you, at least, into thinking that somehow the country would fall apart if they weren't around to tell you how to think.

      States can do whatever they like to choose their electors, and put whatever constraints they feel like on the process, SO LONG AS those constraints are clear and unprejudicial. If every private club that wants their candidate on the ballot has to meet the same vaguely reasonable criteria, you don't have a damned thing to say about it unless you live in that state.

      At least, that's how it is now. I'll bet just about anything that if Barr did somehow prevail here, the ultimate result would actually be another small death for states' rights, one way or another.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie