Brown v. Todd
In Brown v. Todd, 53 S.W.3d 297, 305 (Tex. 2001), the plaintiff brought suit against the mayor of the city of Houston, seeking a judgment declaring that an executive order issued by the mayor was invalid because it effectively nullified the result of a previous referendum election. Id. at 299.
The plaintiff claimed standing based solely on his status as a voter in the referendum election. Id. at 302 n.2. In holding that the plaintiff did not have standing, the supreme court stated, "In no way does plaintiff's status as a voter give him an interest sufficiently peculiar to satisfy our standing requirements." Id. at 302.
In Brown, the court acknowledged that there was a narrow exception to the general rule that voters do not have standing. Id.
To have standing, a party must allege an actual, not merely a hypothetical or generalized, injury distinct from that sustained by the public at large. Id.
The plaintiff asserted "that he possessed an injury distinct from the general public because he voted in the referendum at issue, his vote was for the prevailing side, and Mayor Brown's executive order negated his vote." Id.
The court held:
"This proposed rationale for standing is too broad because the injury he identifies is not unique to him. Indeed, it is shared by all living Houstonians who were among the 198,563 electors who actually voted against the proposed ordinance. In no way does the plaintiff's status as a voter give him an interest sufficiently peculiar to satisfy our standing requirements." Id. In Brown v. Todd, Houston City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in city employment and contracting. Id. at 299.
Pursuant to a procedure authorized by the city charter, the plaintiff and other citizens organized a campaign to repeal the ordinance. Id.
At a referendum election in 1985, voters, including the plaintiff, rejected the ordinance. Id. In 1998, the Mayor issued an executive order, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in municipal employment and city programs. Id.
Nine days later, the plaintiff sued the Mayor and the City, seeking a declaration that the executive order was invalid and an injunction against its enforcement. Id.
The plaintiff alleged that the executive order nullified the 1985 election results and usurped City Council's authority. Id.
The Texas Supreme Court ultimately held that the plaintiff lacked standing. Id. at 302-04.
The plaintiff claimed standing because he voted for the prevailing 1985 referendum rejecting the anti-discrimination ordinance and the subsequent executive order negated his vote. Id. at 302.
The court concluded the plaintiff did not possess a sufficiently peculiar interest based on his status as a voter and he failed to identify a unique injury. See id.
Instead, his injury was shared by all 198,563 electors who voted for the 1985 referendum rejecting the anti-discrimination ordinance. Id.
Accordingly, the plaintiff had no standing to protect his "no" vote from future action. Id. at 303.