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. 🙂