Eighth Circuit Hears Arkansas Green Party Case

On May 10, the 8th circuit heard oral arguments in Green Party of Arkansas v Martin, 10-3106. The lawsuit challenges the Arkansas law that removes parties from the ballot whenever they go through a statewide election and fail to poll 3% of the vote for the office at the top of the ticket (Governor in midterm years, and President in presidential years). The Green Party has successfully petitioned as a party in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Each petition drive required 10,000 valid signatures and exhausted the party’s funds. The party argues that it polled enough votes for various state and federal offices, each time, to make it obvious that the party has a modicum of support, and that it is irrational for the state to remove it from the ballot.

The three judges were very familiar with the history of the Arkansas law. Even before any attorney mentioned the history of the law, they were already aware that the law, requiring removal of a party for failing to poll a specified share of the vote for either President or Governor, had been passed in 1971, just after the American Party had polled 5.9% for Governor. The 1971 law removed the American Party, because the new law required a vote of 7%. Thus it appears that the 1971 legislation was passed for a discriminatory purpose. Before 1971, any party could be on the ballot in Arkansas just by being organized. The three judges are Michael Melloy and James Gritzner, from Iowa; and Duane Benton from Missouri. They were all appointees of President Bush Jr.


Eighth Circuit Hears Arkansas Green Party Case — 9 Comments

  1. Again –
    Separate is NOT equal.
    Brown v Bd of Ed 1954

    Each election is NEW.

  2. #1, that may be a good policy recommendation. But for over 100 years, the idea that a party should be treated a certain way based on how it did in a previous recent election has been embedded in the laws of most states of the USA. The idea is also embedded in federal law, which gives general election funding to certain parties based on how they did in the previous election.

    The idea of assigning certain privileges to parties, based on how they did in a prior election, goes beyond ballot access. States use the prior election to decide if certain parties should be represented on election boards, or to determine whether they can get the top line on the ballot.

  3. I’m guessing that the 1971 law passed VRA muster because the American Party didn’t draw many votes from non-whites.
    Or because the new law helped the AR GOP and Nixon was in the White House? Maybe both reasons.

  4. #2 too many embedded brain dead ballot access lawyers and especially party hack SCOTUS MORONS to count — unable to detect the *equal* in 14th Amdt, Sec. 1.

    Gee — was slavery once upon a time *embedded* in the U.S.A. Const ???

    Was *separate is equal* racist stuff embedded in the U.S.A. in 1896-1954 ???

    Is everybody ready for Civil WAR II ??? — since the 13th, 14th and 15th Amdts were obviously NOT enough to get REAL Democracy into the various regimes.

  5. #3, sadly, the US Justice Department, Voting Rights Section, has almost never stopped a covered state from imposing ballot access barriers on minor parties and independent candidates. In 1966 the Voting Rights Section stopped Mississippi from increasing the number of signatures for a statewide independent from 1,000 to 10,000. But later, ballot access hurdles were approved for Alabama (twice, 1982 and 1996); Arkansas (as you said); North Carolina (1981 and 1983); and Virginia (1982).

  6. Any body find any *equal* ballot access stuff in Williams v. Rhodes 1968 — or in ANY later ballot access JUNK opinion in SCOTUS ???

    How many minor party folks have been appointed to be a SCOTUS judge ???

    Art. II, Sec. 2, para. 2 and Art. III, Sec. 1.

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