Lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in both Alabama and Oklahoma against state laws passed last year that moved petition deadlines for newly-qualifying parties into March. In Alabama, the lawsuit was filed by the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties. In Oklahoma, the lawsuit was filed by the Green and Libertarian Parties.
In both cases, attorneys for the states have been deposing various minor party state officers and plaintiff-candidates. Their strategy is apparently to deflect the attention of the judge from the issue of the early deadline, onto any perceived defects in the minor parties themselves. Alabama, this month, even took the deposition of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Oklahoma this month has taken the deposition of the current state chair, the previous state chair, and the state chair prior to that.
During the period starting in 1968, federal and state courts have struck down early petition deadlines for minor party and independent candidates in 51 separate lawsuits. There are no court precedents upholding a deadline as early as March for a newly-qualifying party, and only one precedent upholding a petition deadline as early as March for an independent candidate (the Lawrence v Blackwell precedent from 2005, upholding the deadline for independent candidates for office other than president, because Ohio’s major parties also nominated in March). Although the 7th circuit upheld a December (of the year before the election) deadline for non-presidential independents in 1986, in 2006 the 7th circuit reversed itself and invalidated that petition deadline.
Early petition deadlines for newly-qualifying parties and independent candidates have been struck down in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. Such deadlines were enjoined in Hawaii and Idaho, although no declaratory judgment was obtained in those two states.