REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS v. DIETZ No. 96-0555.
940 S.W.2d 86 (1997)
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS and Thomas W. Pauken, State Chairman, and Barbara Jackson, Executive Director, Relators, v. The Honorable John K. DIETZ, Respondent.
Supreme Court of Texas.
Decided February 28, 1997.
J. Patrick Wiseman, Austin, for Respondent.
ABBOTT, Justice, delivered the opinion of the Court, in which PHILLIPS, Chief Justice, and HECHT, CORNYN, ENOCH, OWEN and BAKER, Justices, joined.
On June 14, 1996, a Travis County district court issued a temporary injunction that essentially required the Republican Party of Texas to provide a convention booth and program advertisement space to the Log Cabin Republicans at the 1996 Republican Party of Texas Convention. In a per curiam opinion issued on June 19, 1996, we stayed the district court's temporary injunction because we were "tentatively of the opinion that state action is required for there to have been a violation of the constitutional rights asserted by the Log Cabin Republicans and that such action was not present under the facts of this case; that the contract claims of the Log Cabin Republicans do not warrant the relief granted by the district court; and that mandamus relief may be appropriate under the unique and compelling circumstances of this case."
The Log Cabin Republicans of Texas and the Texas Log Cabin Republicans, Inc. (collectively LCR) are Texas non-profit corporations of Republicans who support equal civil rights for gay and lesbian individuals. In April 1996, LCR applied for an exhibitor's booth at the 1996 Republican Party of Texas Convention which began on June 20. As part of the booth application, LCR agreed to abide by the rules and regulations issued by the Republican Party of Texas for the convention. One of these rules allowed the Republican Party "the right to restrict exhibits
The Exhibits Chairman for the convention orally informed LCR's President, Dale Carpenter, that the group's booth application was approved. The Republican Party also cashed the $400 check Carpenter submitted for the booth. On May 15, 1996, LCR submitted to the Republican Party an advertisement to be included in the convention program along with a $750 check for the cost of the advertisement. The advertisement asserted LCR's beliefs that equal rights should be provided for gay and lesbian individuals. On May 21, 1996, the Republican Party Executive Director sent a letter to LCR rejecting the advertisement and the booth request. The Party returned the $750 check and refunded the cost of the booth.
On May 30, 1996, LCR filed this lawsuit in Travis County seeking injunctive relief. LCR alleged that the Republican Party's actions unconstitutionally infringed upon LCR's rights to free speech, equal rights, and due course of law under the Texas Constitution. LCR also claimed a right to specific performance of its contract with the Republican Party of Texas for a booth and an advertisement. The district court held a hearing on Friday, June 14, 1996. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court issued a temporary injunction precluding the Republican Party from refusing to provide the booth and advertisement.
On Monday, June 17, 1996, the Republican Party filed with this Court a motion for leave to file a petition for writ of mandamus and an emergency motion to stay the district court's temporary injunction order. The next day, we requested an expedited response from LCR, and set oral argument for June 19, 1996—one day before the convention began. After hearing oral argument, we granted the emergency stay in a per curiam opinion. We now explain why we concluded that the Republican Party was entitled to extraordinary relief.
Mandamus is an "extraordinary" remedy that is "available only in limited circumstances." Walker v. Packer,
The district court's injunction was based on a finding that LCR would probably prevail on its breach of contract claims and its free speech, equal rights, and due course of law claims under the Texas Constitution.
1. STATE ACTION
Under the "state action" doctrine developed by the federal courts, the United States constitutional guarantees of free speech, equal protection, and due process impose restrictions or obligations only on "state actors." As such, United States constitutional civil rights protect only against governmental action, either actual or constructive, in the shape of laws, customs, or judicial or executive proceedings.
However, LCR's claims do not arise under provisions in the United States Constitution; rather, LCR's causes of action are based on guarantees contained in article I of the Texas Constitution, which is known as the Texas Bill of Rights. Thus, we must decide whether the "state action" doctrine applied in federal courts is required for a party to maintain a claim for a violation of the Texas free speech, equal rights, and due course of law guarantees. Several Texas courts of appeals have concluded that some quantum of state action is required before a litigant can maintain a lawsuit for the deprivation of a Texas constitutional right, see, e.g., Weaver v. AIDS Services of Austin, Inc.,
We first turn our attention to whether the constitutional claims advanced by LCR require state action. When interpreting our state Constitution, we rely heavily on its literal text, Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby,
The text of our state charter demonstrates that the guarantees of the Texas Bill of Rights generally apply only against the government. The Texas Constitution contains a specific provision, article I, section 29, that defines the scope and application of the Texas Bill of Rights. Section 29 is titled "Provisions of Bill of Rights excepted from powers of government; to forever remain inviolate" and provides as follows:
TEX. CONST. art. I, § 29. The first clause of section 29 establishes that the purpose of the Texas Bill of Rights is to "guard against transgressions of the high powers" delegated to the state government by the Texas Constitution. Nowhere does the Texas Constitution contain similar language indicating an intent to have the Bill of Rights generally guard against transgressions by individuals. Further, the provisions in section 29 excepting everything in the Bill of Rights "out of
Our conclusion is buttressed by two prior decisions of this Court which recognized that the Texas Bill of Rights establishes limitations on the powers of government. In Travelers' Ins. Co. v. Marshall, 124 Tex. 45, 76 S.W.2d 1007 (Tex.1934), we stated that the Bill of Rights "consists of express limitations of power" on the legislature, executive officers, and the judiciary. Id. at 1009 (emphasis in original). More recently, we held in City of Beaumont v. Bouillion that a law conflicting with rights guaranteed by the Texas Bill of Rights is void "because the Bill of Rights is a limit on State power." 896 S.W.2d at 149 (emphasis added).
Separate from the actual text, there is no indication that our Constitution's framers intended that the free speech, equal rights, and due course of law guarantees of the Texas Bill of Rights would apply to purely private conduct. Instead, the framers appear to have borrowed liberally from the federal Bill of Rights and the bills of rights in other state constitutions. See generally Ericson, Origins of the Texas Bill of Rights, Vol. LXII, No. 4, S.W. Hist. Q. 457, 457-58 (1959); see also Cornyn, The Roots of the Texas Constitution: Settlement to Statehood, 26 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 1089, 1127 (1995); cf. Ex parte Tucci, 859 S.W.2d at 29 (Phillips, C.J., concurring). As noted previously, the federal courts have consistently applied the state action principle.
Our holding today is consistent with well-reasoned constitutional theory. A "constitution" has been defined as "a charter of government deriving its whole authority from the governed." BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 311 (6th ed. 1990). In essence, a constitution is a compact between the government and the people in which the people delegate powers to the government and in which the powers of the government are prescribed. See THE ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY IX (Michael G. Kammen ed., 1986).
Accordingly, based on the text of the Texas Bill of Rights, its history and purpose, our prior judicial decisions, the law in other jurisdictions, constitutional theory, and the concern for the liberty of all Texas citizens, we conclude that state action is required before a litigant can maintain a claim for deprivation of a right secured by the free speech, equal rights, and due course of law guarantees of the Texas Bill of Rights.
Having concluded that "state action" is required, we must now consider how to apply the principle. Generally, state action is only present for otherwise private conduct when the conduct can be fairly attributed to the government. See generally Blum v. Yaretsky,
Federal court decisions provide a wealth of guidance in our resolution of state action issues. See generally Davenport v. Garcia,
In the White Primary Cases,
Lowenstein, Associational Rights of Major Political Parties: A Skeptical Inquiry, 71 TEX. L. REV. 1741, 1750 (1993).
Accordingly, federal courts have held that some party activities, such as holding elections, are public state action, while other activities are private. In Seergy v. Kings County Republican County Comm.,
We agree that a political party is a state actor in some instances, such as when it is conducting elections, but a private organization in other instances, such as when it is conducting certain of its internal affairs. We must determine where, along this spectrum, the Republican Party's conduct falls. We hold that the actions of the Republican Party in denying LCR the booth and advertisement were mere internal party affairs. The stated purpose of LCR in attempting to obtain a booth and advertising space was to work toward changing the Party's internal platform.
The fact that the Republican Party has adopted by reference the Texas Constitution "in so far as [it] may be applicable" does not affect our analysis. As we have held, the free speech, equal rights, and due course of law provisions of the Texas Bill of Rights are only applicable when state action is present; thus, the fact that the Party agreed to abide by the Constitution when "applicable" does not change the controlling issue. Because the Republican Party's conduct in denying LCR a booth and advertisement at the convention is an internal party affair rather than an integral part of the election process, the Republican Party is not a state actor under the undisputed facts of this case. Therefore, LCR cannot maintain its state constitutional claims against the Party, and the district court abused its discretion in issuing an injunction based on these claims.
2. CONTRACT CLAIMS
The district court's injunction was also based on LCR's contractual claims. However, even if LCR prevailed on those claims, LCR would not be entitled to the injunction issued by the district court. The district court ordered the Republican Party:
LCR acknowledges, however, that in submitting the booth application, it agreed to abide by the rules and regulations issued by the Republican Party of Texas for the convention. One of these rules allowed the Republican Party "the right to restrict exhibits which, because of undue noise, method of operation, material, content, or any other reason, become objectionable." LCR also concedes that the application form for advertisements provided: "All ads subject to approval by the Officials Committee of the Republican Party of Texas." LCR was undisputedly aware that advertisements had to be approved; the correspondence accompanying LCR's proffered advertisement stated that "if for some reason the ad is not accepted for publication in the program, please return the check to the above address." Accordingly, even if LCR prevailed on its contract claims, the Party retained the contractual right to restrict LCR's booth and approve its advertisement. The district court's injunction therefore afforded LCR more relief than it was entitled to, even by LCR's own allegations. The district court thus abused its discretion in granting this injunction to LCR. We express no view, however, on whether LCR is entitled to other relief on its contract claims.
We now consider whether the Republican Party is entitled to challenge the trial court's injunction by mandamus in this Court. Generally, mandamus relief is unavailable when a relator has an adequate remedy by ordinary appeal. See Walker, 827 S.W.2d at 840. LCR argues that the Republican Party is not entitled to mandamus relief because it should have filed an accelerated appeal in the court of appeals, see TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE § 51.014(4); TEX.R.APP. P. 42(a)(1), or should have sought mandamus relief from the court of appeals before filing an original proceeding in this Court. TEX.R.APP. P. 121(a)(1); LaRouche v. Secretary of State,
The district court's injunction affected a statewide political convention and was based on claims of statewide importance. The state's highest court should determine such
In Sears, we considered the argument that Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 121(a)(1) requires a mandamus proceeding to be first filed in the court of appeals. Id. at 249. Sears concerned a candidate's eligibility for the Republican nomination for the office of Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Id. We held that that case fell within the narrow exception allowing a mandamus proceeding to be filed in this Court without having first been filed in the court of appeals. Id. at 250 n. 1.
The Sears rationale is equally applicable in this case. The relator in Sears argued that the issue was one of "statewide application," that "the urgency of the time constraints" necessitated immediate review by this Court, and that if the dispute was not resolved promptly, it could become moot. Id. at 249-50. Because this case also presented an issue of statewide application that could have become moot without our immediate attention, we likewise hold that the Republican Party met the requirements of Rule 121(a)(1).
Finally, the quick eruption and short time frame of this constitutional controversy compelled mandamus review. The trial court issued its injunction less than a week before the convention's opening. The impending deadline limited this Court's review to little more than forty-eight hours. There was simply inadequate time for the Republican Party to seek relief in the court of appeals and for the losing party there to still avail itself of this Court. Parties should not be confined to time-delaying battles in the lower courts in cases involving issues of statewide importance. For these unique and compelling reasons, we hold that our exercise of mandamus jurisdiction over this case is proper. See Geary, 878 S.W.2d at 603.
We conclude that the district court abused its discretion in granting LCR a temporary injunction, thereby entitling the Republican Party to the stay order that we issued on June 19, 1996. The stay order provided the Party all the relief it was entitled to under the unique circumstances of this case. Accordingly, the Republican Party's petition for writ of mandamus is dismissed as moot.
SPECTOR, Justice, concurring.
I concur in the judgment of the Court dismissing this mandamus proceeding as moot but do not join in the Court's opinion for the reasons set out below.
Today, the majority attempts to explain— in a broad interpretation of our Texas Constitution—why the Republican Party was entitled to deny the Log Cabin Republicans a booth and advertisement at the Party's state convention. The majority's opinion holds that state action is required for equal rights, free speech, and due course of law claims under the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution. The majority further concludes that the Republican Party's state convention is not sufficiently related to the electoral process to render the Party's exclusion of the Log Cabin Republicans state action.
I first disagree with the majority's overbroad rationale for adopting a state action requirement for equal rights, due course of law, and free speech claims under the Texas Constitution. In the hundred and fourteen years since the United States Supreme Court first recognized a state action requirement under the federal Fourteenth Amendment,
The majority's heavy reliance on federal state action doctrine under the federal Fourteenth Amendment and the portions of the Bill of Rights incorporated through that amendment is misplaced. Both the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment, by their plain language, pertain only to governmental actions. See U.S. CONST. amends. I ("Congress shall pass no law ..."), XIV ("[N]or shall any state ..."). The Texas Bill of Rights contains nothing comparable to this strong language: to the extent that it is regarded as having any meaning at all, article I, section 29 has previously been read to strengthen—not to limit—the other provisions of the Bill of Rights. See 1 GEORGE D. BRADEN, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: AN ANNOTATED AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS 85-86 (1977). Further, the federal state action requirement is a product of the twin concerns of federalism and separation of powers within the federal government. LAURENCE H. TRIBE, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW § 18-2, at 1691 (2d ed. 1988). These concerns relate differently to our state constitution than to the federal constitution.
The majority disregards significant differences between the language of the Texas and federal constitutions. For example, the federal Due Process Clause has a limited reach because it "is phrased as a limitation on the State's power to act, not as a guarantee of certain minimal levels of safety and security." DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of Social Services,
Davenport v. Garcia,
Even assuming a state action requirement should apply to the Log Cabin Republicans' claims, the majority does not offer a satisfactory justification for finding an absence of state action here. In construing the federal state action requirement, the United States Supreme Court has recognized that even an entirely private person may be considered a
Whether sufficient state action exists here must turn on the extent to which the Party's state convention implicates the state's authority and the electoral process. The majority recognizes that the behavior of political parties has risen to the level of state action in various circumstances. 940 S.W.2d at 92-93. Today's opinion, however, does not articulate any standard or principle that determines where the threshold for state action lies.
Based only on the facts brought to light in a brief hearing on the temporary injunction, the trial court observed that a symbiotic relationship exists between the state and a major political party, and concluded that the Log Cabin Republicans could probably demonstrate a sufficient degree of state involvement to prevail on their constitutional claims. On the same limited record, this Court reaches the opposite conclusion.
Political speech, the type of speech that the Log Cabin Republicans sought to exercise at the Party's convention, is integral to our democratic form of government and receives the broadest protection under the First Amendment to assure an open debate on political issues. Cf. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n,
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