Maria Palacios, whose candidacy for Georgia House was ruled ineligible, holds a press conference at Fulton County Superior Court on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Maya T. Prabhu/
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Supreme Court rejects appeal from disqualified candidate

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously declined to consider an appeal from a former state House candidate who was disqualified because she only became a U.S. citizen last year.

Maria Palacios, a Democrat, was removed from the ballot in May by Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp because the Georgia Constitution requires House candidates to be “citizens of this state for two years.”

Palacios, who was brought by her parents to the United States from Mexico as an infant without authorization, has lived in Georgia since 2009.

“This case hinged on Palacios’ failure to meet the basic legal requirements to run for office,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Kemp. “The Georgia Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to deny her appeal clearly demonstrates her flawed interpretation of the law.”

Palacios’ attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia argued that she should have been allowed to run because the Georgia Constitution also says that members of the state House must be U.S. citizens “at the time of their election.” The ACLU asserted that Palacios’ long-term residency satisfied the state Constitution’s mandate to be a citizen of the state for at least two years.

"The ACLU of Georgia took Ms. Palacios’ case because treating some citizens differently than white citizens because of their race or national origin is a part of Georgia’s past that must stay in the past,” said Andrea Young, executive director for the ACLU of Georgia. 

There’s no other Democratic Party candidate in the race for House District 29. Republican state Rep. Matt Dubnik will face Independent Nancy Stead in the Nov. 6 general election for the Gainesville seat.