In 2003, the Maryland Green Party won a spectacular ballot access lawsuit in Maryland’s highest state court. That court ruled that it is unconstitutional for a state to require double petitioning. That is, it is unconstitutional to require a minor party to submit one petition to qualify itself, and then separate petitions for each of its nominees (“nominees” means people chosen at the party’s nominating conventions; it doesn’t mean people seeking the party’s nomination).
As a result of that decision, Maryland ballot access for minor parties is now reasonable and fair, a great contrast to Maryland law between 1967 and 2003, when it was extraordinarily repressive.
The Maryland State Board of Elections seems to have a vendetta against the attorneys who won that 2003 case for the Maryland Green Party. The Board has refused to pay attorneys’ fees. The latest attempt by the Board to avoid payment was in July 2006, when it persuaded a lower court judge to issue a subpoena, letting the Board see all the e-mail between one of the attorneys and the Green Party. Because that attorney works for a college as a librarian, the subpoena also asks to see his employment application and his payroll records. The attorney used his computer at work for e-mail with the Green Party (something that was permitted by the employer, as long as it wasn’t extensive), but the State Board of Elections argues that therefore the attorney-client privilege was waived. The Board of Elections also apparently hopes to substantially cut the hourly rate for the attorney, by trying to demonstrate that his relatively modest salary as a librarian demonstrates that he should not be paid as though he were an ordinary attorney.
On January 26, the ACLU of Maryland filed a brief in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on behalf of the Green Party and its attorneys, arguing that the subpoena should be quashed and that the Board quickly settle the amount of attorneys fees. The case is Maryland Green Party v Maryland Bd. of Elections, no. 01321, Sept. 2006 Term.