The lawsuit Stein v Chapman has been appealed to the Eleventh Circuit. This is the case in which the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties have challenged the March petition deadline (which only exists in presidential election years) for the petition to place newly-qualifying parties on the ballot.
A U.S. District Court in Ohio has expedited the lawsuit over whether the new ballot access restrictions can be imposed for the 2014 election. All briefs must be submitted by December 18, and the hearing might be held that same day. The judge says he will decide the case no later than January 8, 2014. The legislature last month passed SB 193, which removes the four minor parties from the 2014 ballot and says they must submit approximately 28,000 valid signatures for the party, and then separate candidate petitions, if the parties want to be on the 2014 general election ballot.
The Third Circuit will hold an oral argument in Constitution Party of Pennsylvania v Aichele sometime in February 2014. This is the lawsuit in which the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties are challenging the unique system that puts petitioning groups at risk of court costs of as much as $110,000 if they submit a statewide petition that is found to lack enough valid signatures.
The U.S. District Court in this case had found that none of the three parties have standing, even though the case was filed in 2012, the year in which both the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party were challenged. The Libertarian Party took a chance and went through the court petition-checking litigation, whereas the Constitution Party withdrew its statewide petition, even though there is some reason to believe it had enough valid signatures in 2012.
During the course of the Libertarian 2012 petition-checking litigation, the state courts issued some good precedents. Specifically, signatures are not invalid just because the signer only wrote down the month and day, but not the year, in the “date” column; and signatures are not invalid if the signer moved within the same county and hadn’t yet re-registered. If those rules had been already established, the Constitution Party might have also taken the risk of having its petition validity determined by the state courts.
The three parties had filed a somewhat similar lawsuit a few years ago, but that was during an odd year when none of them had actually petitioned for that year’s election. That case was also dismissed on standing, and in that case, the Third Circuit didn’t even ask for oral arguments, but in the current case, the Third Circuit will hold oral arguments.
Ohio Files Brief in U.S. Supreme Court, Defending State Law that Makes it Illegal to Make a False Statement in a Campaign
On November 27, Ohio filed this brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Susan B. Anthony List v Driehaus, 13-193. The issue is Ohio’s law that makes it illegal for anyone to make a false statement in a campaign ad, whether about candidates or about ballot measures. The state argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should not take this case. The state argues that the Susan B. Anthony List (which had been sued by a congressional candidate for allegedly saying the candidate favored using taxpayer money to pay for abortions) was never threatened with prosecution, and therefore this is not a proper lawsuit for determining whether the Ohio law violates the First Amendment.
Alabama permits unqualified parties to qualify by petition in just part of the state. For some time the Alabama Libertarian Party has been circulating a petition for party status in Jefferson County, the state’s most populous county and the county that includes Birmingham. The party has been informed that its petition for 2014 county party status is valid. This will enable the party to run nominees for state legislature in districts wholly inside Jefferson County.
If the party completes a similar party petition in each of five other counties nearby, it will be entitled to run for U.S. House in 2014 in the Sixth District. The party hasn’t had any congressional nominees on the ballot since 2002, the most recent year it was a ballot-qualified party in Alabama. Thanks to Paullie for this news.
Virginia Legislator Leaves Republican Party, Will Run as an Independent for State Senate if Seat Becomes Vacant
On December 3, Virginia Delegate Joe T. May announced he has left the Republican Party and, if there is a special State Senate Election in district 33, he will run as an independent. May was elected as a Republican to the House of Delegates in 1993 and has been re-elected ever since, except that in the June 2013 Republican primary, he was defeated for re-election by a vote of 2,958 to 2,201.
There will be a special State Senate election in the 33rd district if the incumbent, Mark Herring, resigns from the Senate. Herring was apparently elected Attorney General on November 5, but the election is so close, there will be a recount, so Herring won’t resign his Senate seat until that is settled.
May decided to leave the Republican Party because he is unhappy with the Republican Party’s plans to hold a nominating convention in Sterling, Virginia, on the evening of December 16, to select a Republican nominee, assuming there will be a special election. May says a small handful of party officials decided on that site and it will prevent may voters from participating.
Meanwhile, the control of the Virginia State Senate between the two major parties is unknown. Here is a fascinating article describing the byzantine rules that will determine who gets to set the dates for future State Senate special elections, and how the timing will affect control of the Senate.