Texas Supreme Court declines 'TEXIT' secession case

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to take up a case from a conservative group that wants to ask voters if the state should secede in a question on this year’s GOP primary ballot.

The court denied the petition outright, with no explanation.

“Well, we did everything we could but the Supreme Court of Texas screwed us … Just ‘nope.’ No explanation. No nothing,” said Paul M. Davis, an attorney for the Texas Nationalist Movement, on the social media site X. “The establishment won today, but we are not going away.”

The group had asked the high court to compel the Texas GOP to accept its voter petition and pose the question of whether Texas “should reassert its status as an independent nation” on the ballot. As part of the petition, the group had turned in nearly 140,000 signatures in support of the referendum.

The party said last month that the request was not delivered in time and that the signatures were collected improperly. Many were electronic, which party chair Matt Rinaldi said is not allowed under Texas law.

In response, the TEXIT group accused the party of trying to “suppress the voices of Republican voters.” The group contended in a letter that it both met the submission deadline and is allowed to collect signatures electronically.

Rinaldi did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court’s decision Wednesday.

In the final days of 2023, the Texas GOP announced it had rejected a 139,000-signature petition submitted by TNM that would have placed a non-binding question in front of voters that read, “Should the State of Texas reassert its status as an independent nation?”

The petition was rejected on two grounds: that it wasn’t timely filed, and that the vast majority of the voter signatures submitted were electronically signed through DocuSign. The party argued that those signatures must be “wet,” or signed with ink, and only around 8,000 of the submitted met that requirement. TNM says it rejected over 30,000 electronic signatures itself after checking them with voter registration records.

Thirteen days after the rejection, TNM asked the state Supreme Court to overrule the RPT and order that proposition’s placement on the ballot, stating, “[We] filed this petition directly with the Texas Supreme Court because time is of the essence.”

TNM’s attorney Paul Davis previously said the filing delay occurred because the rejection came while he was on a pre-scheduled vacation.

The group cites the Texas Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which reads, “A record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.” To date, that has generally applied only to legal purposes that are not electoral. TNM argues it applies to all signature requirements in state law, including in the Texas Election Code.

The group also objects to the timeliness assertion from the Texas GOP that said TNM needed to submit the petition the day before the December 11, 2023 filing deadline.

The petitioners are requesting an immediate decision from the court to provide county elections offices with enough time to print ballots. However, had the signature petition been approved, the actual language on the ballot would not necessarily be what TNM circulated. The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) would have to finalize and approve the wording. TNM asked the court to order the placement of their wording on the ballot.

RPT Chair Matt Rinaldi responded to the filing on social media, stating, “The petition filed by the Texas Nationalist Movement this am asks the Texas Supreme Court to rule that electronic signatures gathered over the internet are allowable for ALL Election Code purposes.” 

“Read that again. This would include voter registration and mail in ballot applications, as well as petitions. It is what Democrats have been fighting for for years and isn't a fight we should cede because a group attempting to put a nonbinding poll on a ballot didn’t want to incur the time and expense of gathering signatures by hand. The Texas GOP will fight this legal broadside on the integrity of our elections because if we lose, it will affect how elections in Texas are conducted for years to come.”

Davis responded, “Nice talking point. Electronic signatures for voting wouldn’t be a problem if the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature would simply return to paper voting. But they won’t do it because they’re a bunch of uniparty RINOs who serve the globalist donor class.”

On Friday, Rinaldi was asked by radio host Chris Salcedo about the TEXIT petition and the then-impending lawsuit, to which he responded that he’s not opposed to such a question in principle but that he thinks it’d distract from impeachment and school choice as the guiding issues in the upcoming primary.

He also said that he believes it’d attract the “wrong [voters]” into the GOP primary. TNM criticized that statement, saying Rinaldi believes TEXIT supporters are the “wrong kind of voters,” but Rinaldi added that the voters to which he referred are “people who don’t usually vote in the GOP primary … moderate voters motivated to vote against it.”

During the interview, Rinaldi conceded that TNM might have a case to make about the deadline part of the rejection, as the RPT offices were closed the day before the deadline — a Sunday.

The SREC chose not to place that question on the ballot back at a chaotic December meeting, and the friction between the party apparatus and TNM has been elevated ever since. This is the closest TNM has gotten thus far to putting a TEXIT question on the ballot, and given the issue’s remarkable staying power in Texas’ political circles, it shows little sign of being the last attempt.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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