U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold announced he will not seek re-election after accusations of sexual improprieties were raised against him. His announcement came too late to remove his name from the ballot for the primary election. His announcement came after the deadline, under Section 172.052(a) of the Texas Election Code, for removal of a candidate’s name from the primary ballot.
The Republican Party of Texas, its chair (in his official capacity), and a registered voter from the District Farenthold represents have filed a 1983 action—a lawsuit for violation of civil rights under 28 U.S.C. 1983—and seek to have Farenthold’s name removed from the primary ballot. Their argument is that section of the Election Code “as applied, violates the First Amendment to the Constitution.” The complaint relies on other statutes for relief.
The individual voter has rights under the Constitution. However, the Texas GOP, according to Wikipedia, is a political action committee, is not a human being. An artificial entity, whether a PAC or a corporation, has no rights as such. Such entities are created by operation of law.
The parties’ tails have wagged our political dog far too long.
Corporations have been given powers and rights about which the Framers of our Constitution and early leaders of the United States warned. James Madison “feared that the spirit of speculation’ would lead to ‘a government operating by corrupt influence, substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty.’” Clements, Jeffrey, Corporations Are Not People,, Berrett-Koehler Publ., 2012, p. xii. Andrew Jackson (a vile man) vetoed recharter of the Second National Bank because the Act “seems to be predicated on the erroneous idea that the present stockholders have a prescriptive right not only to the favor but to the bounty of Government. ... It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” Id., p. xiii. Decisions of the Supreme Court in recent years have broadened the “rights” an artificial entity may claim. See McCutcheon v. F.E.C., 134 S.Ct. 1434 (2014) and Citizens United v FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).
Corporations, or any other artificial entity, were not endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Only human beings have “rights.” The move to overthrow British rule in this country was driven, in part, by resentment toward British corporations. Also, to confer “rights” upon corporations is antithetical to a major reason people create corporations. Corporations operate under the “corporate veil,” the “legal assumption that the actions of a corporation are not the actions of its owners, so that the owners are exempt from liability for the corporation’s actions.” Black’s Law Dictionary, pocket ed., 1996, p. 142. Corporations are not held accountable for their actions. After catastrophic events, such as the Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, India, a corporation did not go to jail. A piece of paper is not easily punished.
The major political parties have acquired powers, already, greater than the people whom the parties supposedly represent. Voters, citizens, public officials, members of the public—human beings—have standing to bring lawsuits. “Factions,” as The Framers called what we call “political parties,” were anathema to Madison and Hamilton. Madison and Hamilton were right.