September 18, 2006

Seventh Circuit Strikes Down Onerous Illinois Ballot Access Laws; An Appellate Trend in the Making?

Via How Appealing, comes news of this decision in Lee v. Keith. This is a significant decision, not only because it strikes down onerous Illinois ballot access laws despite earler circuit precedent, but also for the harder look that the court takes at asserted state interests to justify such laws and the court's decision to look at the combination of state laws that create severe burdens for state parties and independent candidates. A snippet:

    In combination, the ballot access requirements for independent legislative candidates in Illinois--the early filing deadline, the 10% signature requirement, and the additional statutory restriction that disqualifies anyone who signs an independent candidate's nominating petition from voting in the primary--operate to unconstitutionally burden the freedom of political association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Ballot access barriers this high--they are the most restrictive in the nation and have effectively eliminated independent legislative candidacies from the Illinois political scene for a quarter of a century--are not sustainable based on the state's asserted interest in deterring party splintering, factionalism, and frivolous candidacies.

This ruling follows a similarly reasoned opinion from the Sixth Circuit striking down an Ohio ballot access law.

Posted by Rick Hasen at September 18, 2006 10:05 AM