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.