Supreme Court hears Renew Houston appeal

Last stop of the litigation train for the plaintiffs that have sued to overturn the Renew Houston referendum, on the grounds that the voters were misinformed about what they were voting for.

Two lower courts have sided with the city, and the case has now landed in the state’s highest court, where attorneys for both sides made their arguments before the nine justices.

First was Andy Taylor for the plaintiffs.

“The problem here is you can’t tell when you go into the ballot box and say, I’m going to vote for this, that in fact you just opened up your pocket book and said, my property can be hit with this cost,” Taylor said.

On the ballot, the proposed charter amendment known as Proposition 1 made no mention of a fee, other than saying it’s a dedicated pay-as-you-go fund.

Robert Heath represented the City of Houston. He said newspaper postings and general media coverage on the proposition was sufficient to inform voters.

He acknowledged that probably not everyone paid attention.

“Just as when we assume or presume the people know the law, that people really don’t know all the law,” Heath said.

See here for the last update. I will make two points: One, the “ballot language was misleading” claim is the same losing argument that the litigants against the 2003 Metro referendum made about the Universities line and the so-called “Westpark corridor”. It was rejected then, and I see no reason why it would not be rejected now. Two, it’s pretty well established by now that many voters have no idea who they’re voting for in many elections. (Two words: Dave Wilson.) Why should referenda be held to a higher standard than that? We should know by summertime, when the Supreme Court is expected to make its ruling.

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