On March 21, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Alabama Secretary of State has no duty to examine the constitutional qualifications of presidential candidates. McInnish and Goode v Bennett, 1120465. Here is the Opinion.
The case originated in state court on October 11, 2012. It was filed by individuals who asserted that the Secretary of State should not print any presidential candidate on a primary or general election ballot without first determining if the candidate meets the constitutional qualifications. The court majority refused to issue an opinion. However, two justices wrote separately to say explain why they believe the plaintiffs should not prevail. Justice Michael F. Bolin wrote a 25-page opinion, saying that nothing in Alabama law requires the Secretary of State to investigate presidential qualifications. That opinion also says the plaintiffs should have filed the case much earlier. Justice Tommy Bryan wrote a two-page opinion agreeing with Justice Bolin.
Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote a 44-page dissent, which expresses the opinion that the Secretary of State took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, and that oath implies that, as chief election officer, she had a responsibility to examine the qualifications of all presidential candidates. Justice Tom Parker wrote a 3-page dissent, agreeing with Moore, except that the Secretary’s duty is only to examine qualifications after a challenge has been filed.
All justices seemed to agree that the plaintiffs had standing. That is because one of the plaintiffs is Virgil Goode, who was on the Alabama general election ballot as an independent presidential candidate. Generally, courts find that candidates have standing to challenge the qualifications of their opponents. Thanks to Bill Van Allen for this news.