Court to Perry, Gingrich, etc: 50 “Laches” with a Wet Noodle

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    So, as you probably know by now, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has rejected the attempts of four Republican’t candidates – Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum – to use liberal judicial activism sue to get their way on the Virginia Republican’t primary ballot. That’s not surprising, but the reasoning of the court is interesting. Click here for the complete ruling. A few key points:

    1. The plaintiffs definitely have legal standing to sue, so the case is fine on that ground.

    2. According to the court, Virginia’s residency requirement for petition gatherers is likely to be declared unconstitutional, so the plaintiffs are on strong ground there.

    3. The 10,000-signature requirement is found not to be a legal problem. According to the court, “No one can seriously argue that the rule is unduly burdensome.” The plaintiffs would fail on that argument.

    4. The court definitely finds that the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm from not being able to appear on Virginia’s Republican primary ballot.

    5. The public interest “weighs heavily in favor of the plaintiffs,” as voters should have the “ability to cast a ballot for the candidate of her choice.”

    6. However, despite several strong arguments for the plaintiffs, their case was thrown out. Why? Because of something I’d never heard of previously: the “equitable doctrine of laches.” This doctrine holds that if a plaintiff has “slept on its rights” by waiting too long to seek relief. As the court writes:

    The plaintiffs could have challenged the Virginia law [many months ago]. Instead, they waited until after the time to gather petitions had ended and they had lost the political battle to be on the ballot; then, on the eve of the printing of absentee ballots, they decided to challenge Virginia’s laws. In essence, they played the game, lost, and then complained that the rules were unfair.

    In other words: Perry, Gingrich, Hunstman and Santorum are sore losers, emphasis on the word “losers.” They failed to get on the ballot, then suddenly decided Virginia’s rules were unfair, then came crying for some judicial activism (which they usually decry) on their behalf. For all of that heaping bowl of FAIL, according to the court, Perry/Gingrich/et al. deserve 50 “laches” with a wet noodle. Actually, the court didn’t say that, but I thought it was a fun play on words, so what the heck. 🙂

    • NotJohnSMosby

      I’m sure there’s some comment in there along the lines of “none of these four imbeciles has a chance of winning, so we’re not going to waste any more of our time dealing with it”?

    • Goldmanusa

           While I know it is easy to get into partisan mode on this, it might be useful to recognize that there are people who actually think the law is worth judging on the merits, not on politics.

           If Perry or Gingrich, or Santorum, et. al had been in court with say 9400 “valid” signatures, and some quesitonable double standard for reviewing the ones’ thrown out, along with the fact they had 15 less days to collect them than last time, etc. etc. then the out-of-state thing might have persuaded the Judge, as he said, to error on the side of voter rights, even if the candidates would catch a break.

            These are, as they say, cases where the Judge is trying to find “rough justice” within the law erroring on the side of more, not less, political rights.

            But Perry had 6000 and Gingrich probably in the 8000 range after admitting to a whole bunch of fraudulent ones.

            They were not “good plaintiffs” where the court might give them the benefit of the doubt.

            So it didn’t matter that they are likely to lose the nomination, a Judge isn’t considering that.

            Now, Gingrich had the better case. Had his lawyers spent the last week having individuals who signed his petition write the judge, do press interviews, make it about the people, not Gingrich, at least the case would have been better postured.

            But bottom line: There was no “sympathy” generated for the candidates or their supporters perhaps this would have been impossible anyway.

            Moreover: There is a case to be made that Gingrich, et. al had a better Voting Rights Act argument, but this was not for the Judge in this case to hear.

            SO: The good news for candidates, and out of state

      petition gathering businesses, is that the State Board of Elections has to finally obey what is surely the law in the 4th Circuit now, and let non-Virginia residents gather petitions although the state does have an interest to make them follow certain sensible rules.

            The bigger issue now is the State Board of Elections curious position on how the petition gathering for the 2012 federal races is to be reviewed in terms of validating signatures. They are warning candidates not to collect signatures in the old CD’s without realizing that when the new CD’s are finalized, many could be invalidated for being in the wrong CD now!

             The SBE position is non-sensical, it penalizes candidates for no good reason, even risks knocking them off the ballot if it were to be followed depending on how the Congressional redistricting goes.

             It needs to be challenged and I have ever reason to believe some smart lawyers are indeed doing that.

             Could Ron Paul defeat Romney in the March primary now?

             It is possible depending on whether the GOP Tea Party base remains angry at the former Governor come March and there is a reason for conservatives to want to send him a message. Would Democrats vote for Ron Paul to help

      embarass Romney or the GOP?

             George Allen said he voted in a DEM primary to help nominate what he thought was a weaker GUV candidate.

             I never have done that. Has anyone reading this blog done what Allen did in 1977?

              We will see.  

    • YelowDawg

      Why isn’t this voter fraud? Couldn’t this be prosecuted as such?  

    • rduckham

      It happens all the time.  When I was living in Texas in the 80’s and 90’s.  we would go into Rethugican primaries and vote for the looniest candidate possible so it would make the election of the unopposed Democrat much easier.