Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Minor Parties Sue for Place on Presidential Ballot
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Two small political parties that failed to qualify for the November presidential ballot have sued the secretary of state, seeking an injunction allowing their candidates to run.
The Justice Party and the Constitution Party both say the requirement that new parties reach a registration threshold 154 days before the primary is unduly restrictive, and violates their rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause.
“Although the Plaintiffs in this action come from different places on the ideological spectrum and may fundamentally disagree on important issues, they share the belief that the state of California must abide by the American ideal that political ideas should compete on equal terms in a free and open political process,” the plaintiffs said in a complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Both parties, and the individual members who joined in the suit, are represented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.
The plaintiffs claim that the threshold requirement—increasing their registration totals to one percent of the number of people who voted in the 2010 general election, or about 103,000—is extremely onerous when combined with the fact that it had to be met 10 months before the election. The individual plaintiffs argue that they had no opportunity to study the parties’ positions before the deadline, especially since the Justice Party was just formed last November.
The Justice Party’s founder and presidential candidate is Rocky Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City who once led a drive to impeach then-President George W. Bush. The Constitution Party holds conservative views and was founded in the 1970s by Howard Phillips, a onetime anti-poverty official in the Nixon administration.
It recently selected Virgil Goode, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, as its candidate for president.
The two parties were among 15 that unsuccessfully attempted to qualify this year, according to documents on the Secretary of State website. Neither party had as many as 200 members at the Jan. 3 deadline, those documents say.
Only one new party, Americans Elect, is on the ballot this year. That party eschewed the registration route, choosing instead to seek more than 1 million signatures on petitions.
To do that, the plaintiffs noted, Americans Elect, which has significant financial resources that the Justice and Constitution parties say they have not access to, had to hire professional signature gatherers.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company