South Carolina Supreme Court Rules that Minor Parties Don’t Need to Get Permission from Primary Voters to Continue Nominating by Convention

On April 24, a few hours after the oral argument, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that ballot-qualified parties that have been nominating by convention need not get permission from the electorate to continue nominating by convention. Here is the 4-page decision in South Carolina Libertarian Party v South Carolina State Election Commission, 2014-000775.

The decision also says that SB 2 from 2013 is in force. That bill says that parties that nominate by primary can’t switch to convention nominations unless they first ask their primary voters for permission to do that. The validity of that bill was questioned in the lawsuit, because the bill said that it would not take effect unless the U.S. Justice Department pre-cleared it, and yet the U.S. Justice Department did not pre-clear it. The reason the bill was never pre-cleared is that, a few weeks after it was signed into law in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County, Alabama v Holder that the pre-clearance formula is unconstitutional.

The Libertarian Party filed this lawsuit to clear up the ambiguity in the law, and now has the assurance that its convention nominations this year and in future years are valid methods for nominating candidates.

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