On May 24, the US Senate voted 49-48 to keep an amendment in the Immigration bill. The amendment would require the states to require photo ID for voting at the polls. However, shortly afterwards, the Senate invoked closure on the bill itself, 73-26. That later vote automatically defeated the voter photo ID amendment, and all other such “non-germane” amendments.
On May 23, the Conservative Party of New York endorsed candidates for statewide office. These statewide endorsements are tantamont to nomination, since it is extremely difficult for a non-endorsed candidate to force a small qualified party in New York to hold a primary (15,000 signatures of Conservative Party registrants would be needed to set up a Conservative Party primary; otherwise the endorsed candidates become the party’s nominees by default). The Conservative Party endorsed John Faso for Governor. He is one of the two contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination; the other contender is William Weld, who is also the Libertarian Party nominee. The Republicans won’t choose between them until a September primary.
Pat LaMarche, Green Party candidate for Governor of Maine, has submitted the 2,500+ small contributions, and the corresponding paperwork, to receive $1,400,000 in public funding. This is in accordance with Maine’s “clean elections” system, which does not discriminate for or against anyone because of political party affiliation.
On May 23, the Pennsylvania qualified minor parties filed their appeal brief in the 3rd circuit. The brief points out that the U.S. District Court Judge totally ignored the main point of the lawsuit…that the Green, Libertarian and Constitution Parties already meet Pennsylvania’s definition of “qualified party” (by polling over 67,000 votes in 2004 for at least one of their statewide nominees). Therefore, it is redundant to require them to submit 67,000 signatures on petitions, before their statewide nominees can be on the November ballot.
The brief also is noteworthy for its criticism of the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court precedent Jenness v Fortson. Normally it is not a good idea for any brief to criticize a U.S. Supreme Court precedent; briefs (at least in courts below the U.S. Supreme Court level) generally must simply accept all U.S. Supreme Court precedents, not criticize them. However, the new Pennsylvania brief’s criticism of Jenness v Fortson is not essential to that brief’s main argument. And it is valuable that a brief break with tradition and criticize Jenness v Fortson. Jenness v Fortson is a deeply flawed decision; it needs to be criticized. Jenness v Fortson was a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1971 that upheld petition requirements (for independent candidates and new and unqualified political parties) of 5% of the number of registered voters. Jenness v Fortson is replete with factual errors, and also with doctrines that have since been repudiated by the U.S. Supreme Court itself. For example, a footnote in Jenness v Fortson suggests that if the plaintiff Socialist Workers Party nominees couldn’t get 88,000 signatures, they were free to run in the major party primaries. Since then, U.S. Supreme Court decisions have supported the right of political parties to exclude individuals who are not in sympathy with party principles, so Jenness is outdated.
So far this year, 5 state legislatures have had bills to set up an inter-state compact of states that will promise to choose presidential electors who will vote for the winner of the national popular vote. The bills in California and Louisiana are the only ones still alive. The California bill, AB 2948, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 17, with all Democrats voting “yes” and all Republicans voting “no”. It will probably pass the Assembly on May 25.
Similar bills are likely to be introduced in New York this week, and several other states next week.
The Connecticut legislature adjourned, and failed to pass any of the 5 bills that would have eased the discriminatory aspects of the “Clean Elections” public funding bills. The Connecticut legislature had passed “Clean Elections” in 2005, but basically excluded all candidates except Democrats and Republicans. The funding does not begin until 2008, so it is possible something will be done in the 2007 legislative session. If not, the ACLU will sue on behalf of the Green Party.