On September 27, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear Vermont Republican State Committee v Sorrell, on whether a state can limit the amount of money any particular candidate spends (even when there is no public funding in place). The 2nd circuit had upheld Vermont limits on expenditures, even though in 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Buckley v Valeo that expenditure limits violate the free speech part of the 1st amendment.
On September 26, a lower state court refused to force the city of Charlotte to hold a primary for the Libertarian Party for mayor. The primary is September 27, and two Libertarians had filed for the post before the party was decertified. The Charlotte Libertarians will now choose a candidate for Mayor by either private mail ballot or a convention. The party will return to court in mid-October 2005, seeking a preliminary injunction to put its various city candidates on the November 2005 ballots. Libertarian Party of North Carolina v State Board of Elections, 05-cvs-13073, Wake Co.
California is holding a special congressional election on Oct. 4. Campaign reports filed September 22 with the Federal Election Commission show that Constitution (American Independent) Party candidate Jim Gilchrist has raised more money than any Democrat running in the race. Gilchrist raised $111,731, whereas the leading Democrat, Steve Young, had only raised $62,493. Two Republicans, however, raised considerably more than Gilchrist. State Senator John Campbell had raised $795,019, and Assemblymember Marilyn Brewer had raised $577,259.
The New Jersey League of Women Voters has invited 4 candidates into a gubernatorial debate. The debate will include the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian nominees, and an independent candidate.
On September 19, New Jersey Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Jeff Pawlowski filed a lawsuit against a public TV station that planned to invite only the Democratic and Republican nominees for Governor. On September 20 a judge in Middlesex County Superior Court denied injunctive relief on the grounds that Pawlowski would not suffer “irreparable harm” if he were omitted from the debate. Pawlowski v New Jersey Network. Pawlowski’s lawsuit was strong, because the US Supreme Court had ruled in Arkansas Educational TV Foundation v Forbes that public TV cannot avoid inviting all candidates with a real campaign into its debates. Pawlowski already raised $300,000 for his campaign and met the threshold to be invited into the debate sponsored by the State Campaign Finance Division. However, that is a hollow victory, since the Democratic and Republican nominees are not attending that debate. Pawlowski is not appealing, since it’s too late. There is a chance there will be some League of Women Voters 4-candidate debates.
On September 21, the North Carolina Libertarian Party filed its ballot access lawsuit. It challenges both the number of signatures to get a party on the ballot (69,734) and the requirement for a party to remain on the ballot (a vote of 10% for president or governor). The case is filed in state court in Wake County, and relies on the State Constitution’s provision that “elections shall be free”. North Carolina only required 10,000 signatures for a new party between 1929 and 1981, and never suffered from a crowded ballot. Also in the past the vote test for a party to remain on was 3%. The 3% was raised in 1949, after the States Rights Party polled 9% for president in North Carolina. Since then, the only party (other than the Democratic and Republican Parties) that has polled enough votes to remain on the North Carolina ballot was George Wallace’s American Party in 1968.