Lawyers for Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked a federal appeals court on Sunday to add the Republican presidential candidate's name to Virginia's primary ballot or halt the printing of ballots pending their appeal.

Perry and fellow GOP-hopeful Newt Gingrich failed to collect the required 10,000 signatures needed to appear on Virginia's March 6 primary ballot.

In Virginia, only people who are eligible to vote in the state can collect signatures. Perry's team argues that restriction violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

But on Friday, a federal judge ruled that Perry waited too long to challenge the state law. The judge said he probably would have succeeded in overturning the requirement, but he should have filed the lawsuit sooner. 

In Sunday's appeal, Perry's lawyers argued it would not have made sense to file a lawsuit before the deadline to collect signatures had passed because their candidate had not suffered any legal harm at that point. They said Perry expected to be able to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

"Candidates for the presidency are focused on running for president, not on fighting legal battles to preemptively hold state election laws unconstitutional," the lawyers wrote.

Gingrich joined Perry in appealing the district judge's ruling. 

"Virginia's election law, which resulted in only two from a large field of Republican candidates being placed on the primary ballot, both violates [Perry's] constitutional rights and prevents the citizens of the Commonwealth from having a meaningful choice in the primary election," the appeal argued.