Libertarian Party Beats Ken Blackwell:

Today a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that two of Ohio's ballot access regulations, in combination, are unconstiutional. Specifically, in Libertarian Party v. Blackwell, the Court ruled:

the combination of two Ohio election regulations -- the requirement that all political parties nominate their candidates via primary election and the requirement that all minor political parties file a petition with the Secretary 120 days in advance of the primary -- imposes an unconstitutional burden on its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free association, by effectively preventing it from gaining access to the general election ballot in the twelve months preceding a presidential election. Following the analytical framework set forth by the Supreme Court in Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983), and its progeny, we find that the combination of these two requirements imposes a severe burden on the constitutional rights of the LPO, its members, and its potential voter-supporters. As the regulations are not narrowly tailored and do not advance a compelling state interest, Ohio's system for registering new political parties violates the Constitution.
Judge Gibbons wrote the majority opinion. Judge Clay concurred in part and dissented in part. Judge Griffin dissented.

I'm in the Detroit airport at the moment, awaiting a delayed flight, so I doubt I'll be able to post more on this today. However, I expect Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog and Ohio State's Election Law site will link to commentary on the decision as it appears.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Another Ballot Access Rule Bites the Dust:
  2. More on LP v. Blackwell:
  3. Libertarian Party Beats Ken Blackwell:
Truth Seeker:
Too bad the Libertarian party is such a mess. The infighting is like a soap opera of teenage girls. And the organizational people seem to see it as a cash machine for their benefit. I joined once many years ago and suddenly was barraged by phone calls and letters about how desperately they needed money for this emergency or that. I guess you can't have a collectivist group of individualists.
9.6.2006 11:40am
JosephSlater (mail):
Hope you were in the new terminal (Northwest, and a few others) at the Detroit airport. It's one of the better airport terminals to hang out in if you have to wait for a delayed plane. The other terminals at Detroit, on the other hand ....

And, as an Ohio resident, I'm predicting this blog item won't be the only "____ beats Blackwell" headline this fall.
9.6.2006 12:07pm
johnt (mail):
I would think that a primary helps keep a nomination out of those smoke filled back rooms everybodys supposed to be worried about. Btw,are there any smoke filled front rooms, or for that matter smoke filled rooms at all? How about rooms filled with empty Evian bottles Or drenched with the smell of Aromatherapy?

Anyway, we've come a long way with the 1st and especially the 14th amandments. The states better watch their asses,there being no "political thickets" the guys in the robes won't plunge into anymore.
9.6.2006 12:29pm
Jim Hu:
IANAL, and I am a libertarian. I often vote for LP candidates. Moreover, I think our electoral system is rigged to favor the major parties. But I skimmed the opinions and I don't think I agree with the decision. The LPO and the court argue that it's unreasonably burdensome to have to collect their petition signatures a year before the general election. But the reason they give for the technical problems with their petition (which the court found to be moot) was that they started collecting signatures in 2001...three years before the general election.

The majority opinion seems to argue that it's too hard to get the signatures early because of lack of interest in election year politics that far in advance. But doesn't the primary itself stimulate interest? And aren't there 32K citizens in a population of 11M who are sufficiently interested in allowing minor parties on the ballot to sign in time?

Sure, I'd prefer a more open system for Ohio. But I don't live there. Does this really rise to the level of being unconstitutional?
9.6.2006 12:52pm

The infighting is like a soap opera of teenage girls.

Oddly enough, I've often said I'd be a Libertarian if I could figure out how to become a virgin.
9.6.2006 1:46pm
Speedwell (mail):
But the reason they give for the technical problems with their petition (which the court found to be moot) was that they started collecting signatures in 2001...three years before the general election.

Naturally, the reason they had to start collecting sigs that early was because Ohio had an obnoxiously early deadline to turn them in, and they weren't given the chance to collect them closer to the election when collecting them would have been easier, like the judge said. I can see how that managed to escape you, since you "skimmed" the opinion.

Oddly enough, I've often said I'd be a Libertarian if I could figure out how to become a virgin.

Not that I'm telling you to do anything unethical, but the way to become a virgin is to claim to be one, whether you are or not, and collude with your previous lovers to keep quiet about your past. Not unlike the process of grooming yourself to run for public office, eh?
9.6.2006 4:10pm
randal (mail):
Hooray for activist judges!
9.6.2006 5:15pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):

Ballot Access News has some coverage. Congrats to Dena and Gary and Richard. It's a good case in general, because it explains how denial of ballot access involves a severe burden, and severe burdens trigger strict scrutiny, and when you get strict scrutiny, plaintiffs win.
9.6.2006 8:04pm
Jim Hu:

No I didn't miss that.
To be on the ballot for the November 2, 2004 general election, minor parties like the LPO were required to submit a petition no later than November 3, 2003.

They could have started in Jan 2003, two years after the procedural change and still had 10 months to gather signatures. They could have gathered signatures in 2002, an election year.

That it might have been easier to collect signatures in 2004 does not speak to whether or not the burden is severe.

The arguments about needing to know who the major party candidates are before mounting a petition drive would argue that Ohio's requirement that parties participate in the primary is unconstitutional. By this reasoning, petition deadlines should all be between the major party conventions and the general election, when the candidates are definitively known. However, the court did not find that a primary participation requirement was unconstitutional on its own.

By its nature, the LP should be less dependent on preelection hype than cult of personality parties like the Reform Party. This is why they were collecting signatures so early...not because they had to, but because they could. Note that they did not have a problem with getting the needed number of signatures, even for 2004. Their actual problem in qualifying was that they used the wrong forms...but that's the point where the court gave them no relief (the second opinion dissents on this, from my reading).
9.6.2006 10:53pm
Ross Levatter (mail):

What a headline. Makes it sound like the LP is going to be hit with hate crime violations...
9.7.2006 1:43am
Bpbatista (mail):
Why the headline about beating Blackwell? He didn't come up with these requirements — they were passed by the state legislature and/or the voter of Ohio when they enacted the present state constitution. Blackwell was merely a nominal defendant due to his position as Secretary of State charged with enforcing the laws passed by the legislature and the state constitution. Your headline, therefore, is misleading. It should be "Libertarian Party Beats Ohio Revised Code and State Constitution."
9.7.2006 11:30am
Crunchy Frog:
Jim Hu: The LP would have trouble garnering 32K votes, let alone signatures. The party is a complete mess. I don't think arguing for a completely open border following 9/11 helped it win friends and influence people...

<-- ex-LP member
9.7.2006 2:14pm