Important Procedural Victory in Georgia Ballot Access Case

On January 6, the Eleventh Circuit issued an order in Green Party of Georgia v State of Georgia and Georgia Secretary of State, 13-11816. The Eleventh Circuit six-page order says that the U.S. District Court was wrong to dismiss the case, which is a challenge to the number of signatures needed for unqualified parties to get on the ballot for President. The Eleventh Circuit order sends the case back to the U.S. District Court, and tells that Court to re-hear the case, with the understanding that presidential ballot access has more constitutional protection than ballot access for other office.

The U.S. District Court Judge had dismissed the case before the state had even answered the Complaint. The U.S. District Court had said that because the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld Georgia’s ballot access laws in 1971 in Jenness v Fortson, therefore the current laws must be constitutional. But Jenness v Fortson did not concern a presidential election; it was filed over the requirements for minor party candidates to get on the ballot for Governor and U.S. House.

The Eleventh Circuit order is signed by Judges Gerald Tjoflat (a Ford appointee), Emmett Cox (a Reagan appointee), and Adelberto Jordan (an Obama appointee). Because Alabama is also in the Eleventh Circuit, this order will be helpful to the ballot access case pending in Alabama, Stein v Bennett. The Alabama case also concerns presidential elections. The issue in the Alabama case is the March petition deadline for parties that want to appear on the presidential ballot.


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