Even though the 2012 election is over, the federal lawsuit filed by the Peace & Freedom Party against the California Secretary of State’s decision to bar Peta Lindsay from the party’s presidential primary ballot is still alive. The case has the potential to explore California’s inconsistent behavior on candidate qualifications and ballot access. The case is Peace & Freedom Party v Bowen, eastern district, 2:12-cv-853.
On April 26, U.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell had refused to order the Secretary of State to place Peta Lindsay on the June 2012 primary ballot. The Secretary of State had refused to put her on the ballot because she is younger than 35 years of age. However, so far, the Judge has not ruled on the Secretary of State’s motion to dismiss the case, which was filed on September 6. In the meantime, the court has said that, assuming the case is not dismissed, discovery is to be completed by July 9, 2013, and a trial will be held on February 11, 2014.
Plaintiffs want to explore the Secretary of State’s custom and practice concerning investigation of qualifications of candidates, and the actual decision-making process involved in her decision to rule Lindsay off the ballot. When various individuals have asked the Secretary of State, in the past, to investigate the qualifications of U.S. Senator John McCain and U.S. Senator Barack Obama, when they ran for President in 2008, the Secretary of State took the position that she has no authority to investigate qualifications. The Secretary of State also takes the position that she cannot judge the qualifications of candidates for the state legislature, even when everyone agrees that a particular legislative candidate does not meet the California Constitution’s duration of residency requirement.