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.