Jan 08 2012

Two Important Tennessee Election Law Cases have Oral Arguments Soon

Source: Ballot Access News

On January 9, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes, Jr., will hear Green Party of Tennessee et al v Hargett, 3:11-cv-692. The hearing is at 3:30 p.m. in the federal courthouse in Nashville. The issue is whether the new ballot access law, passed in 2011, is constitutional. Judge Haynes had struck down the old law in 2010. The old law required 40,042 valid signatures by March of an election year, and the wording on the petition implied the signers are party members.

The new law requires 40,042 valid signatures, due on April 5. The petition no longer implies that all the signers are party members. The plaintiffs argue that the new law is virtually as bad as the old law, and is still unconstitutional. The 2010 decision is reported, 793 F.Supp.2d 1064, and seems to say that an April petition deadline would also be unconstitutional. No reported court decision has ever upheld a procedure for a new party to get on the ballot that had to be completed by April, if that procedure was the only way for a new party to get on the ballot.

On January 17, the 6th circuit will hear Kurita v The State Primary Board of the Tennessee Democratic Party, 08-6245. This is the interesting case over whether the Democratic Party had the authority in 2008 to declare that Senator Rosalind Kurita was not the nominee of the Democratic Party for one State Senate race, even though she had narrowly won the Democratic primary. Tennessee does not have registration by party and Democratic Party officials believed that Senator Kurita had benefited from the votes of individuals who were loyal to the Republican Party. The U.S. District Court had upheld the ability of the Democratic Party to say that the runner-up was the actual Democratic nominee.

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