7th Circuit Affirms Order Easing Way for Libertarian Party and Others Onto the Illinois Ballot, After Illinois Elections Board Changed Its Mind

From the unsigned order:

Once again in its appellate briefs the Board asks this court to reverse the district court’s decisions and permit the Board to determine the best options for balancing the, plaintiffs’ interests with the statutory ballot access requirements in Illinois. In doing so, the Board devotes not a word to addressing the harm this would cause to candidates and parties who have relied on the agreed preliminary injunction order. Nor does the Board explain how it would make the relevant determinations regarding ballot access, but any change made now, after the deadline for submitting signatures has passed, is certain to severely limit or prevent third-party or independent candidates from accessing the November ballot. The Supreme Court has instructed that federal courts should refrain from changing state election rules as an election approaches. See, e.g., Republican Nat’l Comm. v. Democratic Nat’l Comm., ––– U.S. –––, 140 S. Ct. 1205, 1207 (2020) (per curiam); Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549 U.S. 1, 4–5 (2006) (per curiam). In reviewing the claims before us, we decline to allow the Board to change the ballot-access requirements on the eve of the deadline for certifying the final contents of the ballot. Indeed, the Purcell principle takes on added force where, as here, the Board seeks to challenge injunctive relief that it initially agreed was necessary and proper. And only after engaging in meaningful delay, including in pursuing this appeal, did the Board change course and put at risk the reliance the plaintiffs have placed in the orders entered by the district court.

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