On September 30, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts denied injunctive relief to Herb Lux, independent candidate for U.S. House in Virginia. The 3-page order says, “Lux may very well be correct that the Fourth Circuit precedent relied on by the District Court (Libertarian Party of Virginia, a case decided in 1985) has been undermined by our more recent decisions addressing the validity of petition circulation restrictions. At the same time, we were careful in American Constitutional Law Foundation to differentiate between registration requirements, which were before the Court, and residency requirements, which were not. Lux himself notes that the courts of appeals appear to be reaching divergent results in this area, at least with respect to the validity of state residency requirements. Accordingly, even if the reasoning in Meyer and American Constitutional Law Foundation does support Lux’s claim, it cannot be said that his right to relief is ‘indisputably clear’.”
The order notes that to obtain injunctive relief from a Circuit Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the applicant must demonstrate that the legal rights at issue are “indisputably clear.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that states can’t require circulators to be registered voters, but has never decided whether states can require them to be residents of the district or the state in which they are working. The 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th circuits have struck down residency requirements for circulators, along with state courts or U.S. District Courts in states not in those circuits, namely New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. On the other hand, the 4th circuit upheld a district residency requirement back in 1985, and the 8th circuit upheld an in-state residency requirement in 2001.
There is a good chance the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually agree to hear this case to decide the issue, but first it must go through the 4th circuit, which may take a year.