COLUMBIA, S.C.--A federal court on Tuesday rejected Rick Perry’s appeal to have his name added to the Virginia Republican presidential primary ballot, likely ending his legal challenge to the state’s ballot-access requirements, even though the campaign says it is still considering its appeal options.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with U.S. District Judge John Gibney, who ruled last week that Perry had waited too long to sue the state of Virginia to get his name on the ballot after being informed he had filed to submit the required 10,000 signatures.
“[Perry] had every opportunity to challenge the various Virginia ballot requirements at a time when the challenge would not have created the disruption that this last-minute lawsuit has. [Perry’s] request contravenes repeated Supreme Court admonitions that federal judicial bodies not upend the orderly progression of state electoral processes at the eleventh hour,” the three-judge panel for the Appeals Court wrote.
“The requirements have been on the books for years. If we were to grant the requested relief, we would encourage candidates for president who knew the requirements and failed to satisfy them to seek at a tardy and belated hour to change the rules of the game. This would not be fair to the states or to other candidates who did comply with the prescribed processes in a timely manner, and it would throw the presidential nominating process into added turmoil,” it added.
The decision applies to fellow candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who joined his legal challenge. Jon Huntsman is also party to the lawsuit, but he dropped out of the race on Monday.
"This appellate ruling only affirms the trial court's assertion that the state's process of printing ballots should not be disrupted,” said Joseph Nixon, Perry’s attorney on the case. “An orderly ballot access process is important but of little significance if viable candidates are unconstitutionally kept off the ballot. The trial judge's holding that the statute is unconstitutional is not disturbed."
Nixon said that the Texas governor is still ruling his options for appeal. But Perry has few avenues to go forward: His attorneys either have to file a writ of certiorari to request that the Supreme Court hear the case, or file a motion en banc to ask the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider his appeal.
Rep. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney were the only candidates to qualify for the Virginia ballot. Paul's campaign issued a statement saying the ruling bolsters the case for the Texas congressman's electability.
“It’s over,” Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said in the statement. “Ron Paul, the candidate of real change, will face off against establishment flip-flopper Mitt Romney in the Virginia primary, making that that Tuesday less ‘super’ for serial hypocrite Newt Gingrich, counterfeit conservative Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, who I should mention is marginally attached to the presidential race.”