On December 26, attorneys for the state of Alabama filed a brief in U.S. District Court, asking that the case Hall v Bennett be dismissed without any ruling on whether it is constitutional for Alabama to impose the same severe petition requirements in special elections that it does in regular elections.
Alabama held a special congressional election on December 17. The only petitioning candidate who submitted signatures, independent James Hall, submitted over 3,000 signatures, but was still denied ballot access because the state required almost 6,000. The basis for Hall’s lawsuit was that in a normal election, an independent candidate has at least two years, and potentially longer, to collect the needed signatures. In the case of the special election, though, the petitioning time was severely curtailed. Hall failed to win injunctive relief, but his lawsuit for declaratory relief is still pending.
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly said that constitutional challenges to ballot access laws are not moot, just because the election is over. The state acknowledges that this is true in regularly-scheduled elections, but argues that each special election is different in its own way, and therefore Hall’s case is moot.