In a 22-page order, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court today rejected Rick Perry’s appeal to appear on the Virginia ballot. Perry initially challenged the state’s stringent ballot laws on Dec. 27, after he and Newt Gingrich failed to qualify with the required 10,000 signatures. Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman all joined the suit. U.S. district judge John Gibney ruled against the challenge last Friday, saying Perry and the other candidates had waited too long to file their suit. Perry and Gingrich both appealed the decision, but today’s ruling means their only path forward would be to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The appeals court confirmed the argument that Perry waited too long to challenge the law, and should have done so before he failed to qualify for the ballot.
“If we were to find Movant’s delay excusable, we would encourage candidates to wait until the last minute to bring constitutional challenges to state election laws,” the decision reads. “Once a candidate learned he had been denied a place on the ballot, he would take his disappointment to the courthouse and hapless state election boards would be forced to halt their scheduled election processes to wait for a ruling.” The judges note that even long-shot candidates in the past have managed to meet the state’s signature requirements, meaning they are clearly feasible.