Friday, December 09, 2016

Church Lacks Standing In Recall Petition Counterclaim

In City of El Paso, Texas v. Tom Brown Ministries, (TX App., Dec. 7, 2016), a Texas state appeals court dismissed on standing grounds a counterclaim by a church that had been involved in recall efforts against the mayor of El Paso who supported re-establishing domestic partnership benefits for city employees. In this phase of the long-running case, at issue was the Church's counterclaim against the city and the Mayor in his official capacity contending that they violated the Church's constitutional right to circulate recall petitions when they brought suit claiming that the Church's recall activities violated election laws. The court concluded in part:
[T]he City never took any unconstitutional actions against Appellees and never applied any unconstitutional policies against them. Rather, it was Cook [the Mayor], in his individual capacity, who sought redress for private injuries arising from Appellees’ alleged violations of the Election Code in circulating the recall petitions, and it was this Court that directed the City to decertify the recall petitions and to cancel the recall election.... The City never engaged in any past unconstitutional conduct toward Appellees, and there is no basis for any fear the City will unlawfully enforce the Election Code against Appellees in the future.