September 24th, 2010
01:35 PM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party backed candidate appeals to high court over ballot signatures

Washington (CNN) - An independent candidate for Congress, affiliated with the conservative Tea Party movement, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force Virginia election officials to accept signatures on petitions to place his name on the ballot.

Herb Lux of Rapphannock, Virginia has filed an emergency appeal with Chief Justice John Roberts, arguing with less than six week before the election, he needs a final ruling on whether his name can appear alongside other office-seekers.

At issue is a state law requiring congressional candidates to obtain a minimum number of signatures before appearing on the ballot. The twist is that most of Lux's signatures were invalidated because he himself witnessed them. Normally that is not a problem, but state law says only a resident of the congressional district can collect such nominating petitions himself.

Lux is seeking a seat in the Seventh District, now held by Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, but lives in the adjacent First District. Virginia does not require a candidate for the House of Representatives to live in the district he or she is running.

Federal courts had earlier turned away the lawsuit, filed against three officials with the Virginia Board of Elections.

In a sign the high court may be taking the issue somewhat seriously, Roberts asked state election officials to respond to Lux's complaint by Monday. The chief justice could himself decide whether to force the independent candidate's name on the ballot, or ask the entire nine-member court to weigh in on the dispute.

In his emergency "application" with the court, Lux's attorney James Bopp, Jr. said the state law was too restrictive, and unfairly hurts independent, less well-funded candidates like his client.

"The Supreme Court has clearly indicated that under the First Amendment a state may not prohibit large classes of people from circulating petitions absent a compelling reason," said Bopp. "There is simply no reason for prohibiting Mr. Lux from circulating his own petitions." Bopp heads the James Madison Center for Free Speech, a conservative legal group and law firm.

Lux is a self-described "Constitutionalist," who founded the American Patriots Committee, a statewide group which, according to its website, supports "righteous men and women for elected office that understand and will support our Constitution, as it is written and according to its original intent with the meanings of the terms and words as defined at the time of its writing." He has spoken at several Tea Party-related events. That grassroots, populist movement has gained political momentum this election year through a series of nationwide protests against high taxes and excessive government bureaucracy.

The case is Lux v. Rodrigues (10A298).

Filed under: Supreme Court • Tea Party movement
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. vic, Nashville TN

    Tea party again

    Rep. Eric Cantor supporter of tea party Game on

    September 24, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    Doesn't want to follow the rules? Sounds tea party to me. They want to make rules for US but not for THEM.

    September 24, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. T'SAH from Virginia

    OMG – as much as I want CAN'Tor OUT – I will NOT welcome a TEA PARTY far-right EXTREMIST who is 'pretending' to be an INDEPENDENT!!! Are the Independents also HIDING behind the TEA PARTY folks!!!!????? But then again, let him in because I am about to UPSET the 7th District in VA and push Rick Waugh!!! Yes I will, just watch me!!!

    This is MY district and I will fight!!!!

    September 24, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. angry liberal

    OK – the Tea Party is chipping away at the Status Quo Republicans.
    Now can we get some Green Party activity chipping away at the Democrat Status Quo?
    Maybe we could get some Choice and some Change.

    September 24, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    The republican tea party becomes ACORN.

    September 24, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    We're supposed to have a government of the people, for the people, by the people - the PEOPLE decide.

    It's not a government of the courts, for the courts, by the courts - the COURTS don't decide.

    Oh, right - forgot, sorry. This is a Tea Partier. Someone psuedo-GOP, and as we all know, the courts are in the back pockets of the GOP. That's how Bush was illegally put in office both times.

    September 24, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Peggy - TX

    Another self-described "Constitutionalist," that applies defunct interpretations of the United States constitution to support what would otherwise be absolutely unjustifiable political positions, so I am not at all surprised to find out that he is also clearly incompetent when it comes to interpreting simple, clearly stated State laws regarding elections.

    State election laws provide a level playing field for prospective candidates so that elections are conducted orderly and the result is an elected official whose status is unquestionable. Lux wants the State laws to be disregarded because …. he was unable to find a residents to witness the signatures, because …. He is not well funded or simply inept. Cry me river …. Where does the Tea Party find these idiots.

    September 24, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    Just another Pee Party candidate from the extremist point of view. Let him be on the ballot and split the nut case rights vote even further!

    September 24, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Uche

    CNN, I keep hearing about Harry Reid battle to Maintain his Senate seat, what about the guy JOHN ENSIGN. He is a cheater and has ethics violation hanging over him but nothing is being mentioned about him. We still remember his case. You guys keep highlighting Democrats. What is your beef with Democrats. You guys SUCK at been INDEPENDENT or APOLITICAL.

    September 24, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. SayWhat

    "Lux is a self-described "Constitutionalist," who founded the American Patriots Committee, a statewide group which, according to its website, supports "righteous men and women for elected office that understand and will support our Constitution, as it is written and according to its original intent with the meanings of the terms and words as defined at the time of its writing." Is there any better way to say "wingnut'?

    September 24, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. CNN stop helping the tea party

    REAL journalists have established that the tea party is NOT a grass-roots, singing cumbaya, every day people bringing balogna sandwiches & sharing with other like folk. Why do you refer to them that way AS IF it were true, CNN. Shame on you. You have heard of the Koch brothers? Dick Armey? We want to read serious journalism. Please.

    September 24, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Looks like Lux hops from one party to the next or maybe he's suffering from personality identity. Put his name on the waiting list at the doctors office.

    September 24, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. DJ in TX

    So when they say "original constitution" what exactly does that mean? Since the original constitution DID NOT grant rights to blacks and slavery still existed..................Remember the 13th & 14th amendments are not a part of the original constitution. So please explain that. As an African American and a veteran of our armed forces who served in Desert defending our "consitition", please tell me what was I fighting for???? Tea Party, please tell us what you are standing for? The original constitution which allowed slavery or the ratified constitution with the amendments that granted freedoms for all???

    September 24, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Jack

    Interpreting the Constitutions words as they were originally meant. Hmm. So blacks are not full citizens and women do not get the right to vote. These were Amendments added later so they are not accepted by originalists. What these self-appointed "Constitutionalists" are doing is confusing legal documents with scripture/religious dogma. Is the Constitution an inspired document? You bet. But it has all the strengths and weaknesses of its time and place. It was not written by a Divine hand. It was written by many flawed but forward thinking men and it is a compromise of the many disparate ideas and beliefs of the individuals. It is an organic, living document not a petrified work written in stone.

    September 24, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. Veteran

    "but state law says only a resident of the congressional district can collect such nominating petitions himself."

    And what makes him so special that he does not have to follow the law as written?

    September 24, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Ann


    September 24, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. D0 not reply to this

    I say let em' do it. Just be sure you get legal signatures! The Supreme Court of WV just ruled today (09.24.2010) that the Jefferson County clerks office MUST hand over the signatures that were obtained for a referendum petition. Citing the FOIA, it made it a legal precedent in that state ruling that " [it] serves a vital function in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and in promoting transparency and ACCOUNTABILITY in the 'conduct of the public's business' " stated Justice Menis Ketchum of the Supreme Court. Let em' do it. Just be sure you are ready to be held accountable if questioned on who's signatures are there! (And not any deceased persons NOR double signatures!)

    September 24, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |