U.S. District Court in Texas Uphold’s “Sore Loser” Law as Applied to Presidential Independent Candidates

Ballot Access News

On May 18, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee, upheld Texas’ sore loser law as applied to presidential candidates. Kennedy v Pablos, w.d., 1:16cv-1047. The case had been filed in 2016 by Rocky De La Fuente, who had appeared on the Texas Democratic presidential primary ballot in March 2016, and then wanted to be an independent presidential candidate in Texas in November.

Although De La Fuente also complained about the May petition deadline for independent presidential candidates, and the number of signatures, the decision did not consider those aspects of the Texas law, on the grounds that since De La Fuente was barred by the sore loser law, he doesn’t have standing to challenge the independent petition characteristics.

The decision is only fifteen pages and ignores the more sophisticated arguments that De La Fuente had made. De La Fuente argued that in November, the true candidates are the presidential elector candidates, and they aren’t sore losers. The decision also doesn’t mention that the true candidates in the presidential primary are the candidates for delegate. The decision doesn’t discuss U.S. Term Limits v Thornton, which said that states can’t add to the constitutional qualifications for federal office. Sore loser laws bar candidates because of their recent past political behavior. A presidential candidate’s past political behavior (running in a partisan primary) is no different than the political behavior of a member of Congress who desires to run for a fourth term. Because the term limits decision said states can’t bar candidates from the ballot because of their past political behavior, the Texas presidential sore loser law is inconsistent with the term limits decision.

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