According to a new report from the Huffines Liberty Foundation, the Republican Party of Texas can implement term limits and close its primary without any legislative approval. 

The report, written by Don Huffines, explains that freedom of association is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, therefore, political parties have latitude when determining who will represent the party.

The courts “have consistently held that Americans’ First Amendment rights of association place significant limits on the state’s ability to regulate political parties,” explained Huffines.  

A party’s “right to exclude” covers who can join the party and who can be nominated. 

A closed primary, where the voter must be a member of that party to vote in its primary election, is possible, Huffines argues, based on the Supreme Court ruling in California Democratic Party v Jones that upheld a party’s right to freedom of association.

In addition to closed primaries, Huffines explains that “the Texas GOP has the right by party rule to set additional qualifications for those who wish to seek our nomination,” which would allow the party to implement term limits. 

There are a few options for implementing closed primaries and term limits, Huffines highlights, such as suing the state to close the primaries or petitioning the legislature to implement the proposed changes. 

However, “the better path forward on both issues is for the party to take the extra-legislative step of adopting a closed primary and term limits through the party’s own rules, implementing them in time for the next Republican primary in 2026,” wrote Huffines.

“The party should close the primaries because only Republicans should be electing Republicans, stop the sabotage,” Christine Welborn, President of Advancing Integrity told Texas Scorecard.

At the Republican Party of Texas convention in San Antonio this week, delegates at the convention are expected to consider making closed primaries a priority.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.