Friday, September 9, 2011

Federal judge rules in favor of LPO in ballot access fight

Below is a press release authored by Libertarian Party of Ohio Deputy Communication Director Kalin Stipe.

In addition to the comments offered by Michael Johnston, LPO Vice Chair and director of the party's Political Division, I would like to state that this development — first and foremost — is welcome news and speaks volumes of the Libertarian Party's comprehension of the Constitution of the United States. As I have been telling our members and supporters locally, how can we expect the public to believe we are prepared to fight for their constitutional rights if we are unable or unwilling to fight for our own?

Given the LPO's track record of successful litigation when this issue arose both in 2006 and 2008, the likelihood of prevailing in court never was in doubt. Unfortunately, Ohio lawmakers were fully aware of this but moved forward with the contested components contained in the bill despite knowing it would incur legal expenses on the taxpayers' dime.

With the Ohio Republican Party in control of the Governor's Mansion as well as enjoying substantial majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, this was undeniably a partisan attempt to perpetuate the ongoing disenfranchisement of Ohio's registered voters — who have grown increasingly weary of the failed manner in which government at all levels has operated over the years.

Furthermore, that our state legislators would bury the key clauses designed to deny ballot access for minor political parties within a routine housekeeping bill (the update to Ohio's election laws) demonstrates a clear intent by the ORP to obstruct competition within the political system. As LPO Chair Kevin Knedler rightly pointed-out during a statewide party function in June, if what Ohio Republicans attempted with ballot access laws was perpetrated in private industry those companies would face federal investigation for violating U.S. antitrust laws.

While this plays-out in court, we in the Allen County Libertarian Party look forward to providing area voters with fresh options in the political arena as well as the opportunity to pursue a government that respects the individual and is less intrusive in our economic and personal concerns.

Together in Liberty,

Don Kissick
Allen County Libertarian Party Chair


Read the text of Judge Marbley's injunction.


Federal judge rules in favor of LPO in ballot access fight

COLUMBUS — A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday against the state of Ohio in a lawsuit brought by the Libertarian Party of Ohio to preserve its right to be on the ballot.

Judge Algenon Marbley granted the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s request for a preliminary injunction that protects ballot access for the party through 2012, including for Libertarian candidates already on the November 2011 ballot in Akron and Troy.

The ruling is part of ongoing litigation, LPO v. Husted, which the LPO filed in response to the passage of HB 194 by the General Assembly earlier this year, a measure that made several changes to Ohio’s voting system.

“This ruling is not just a victory for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, but for the majority of Ohioans, including Republicans and Democrats, who are looking for a viable alternative to our current, dysfunctional two-party system,” said Michael Johnston, LPO vice chair. “With this ruling, Judge Marbley has guaranteed that our soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to participate in an open electoral process, not unlike the one they laid their lives down to create in the Middle East. We look forward to engaging all political opponents in a vibrant debate in the upcoming Presidential election cycle.”

Marbley noted that the General Assembly had “failed to respond” to previous federal court rulings in favor of the LPO’s ballot access rights in 2006 and 2008. Marbley’s decision recaps LPO v. Brunner, noting that the court found that the requirements set forth by then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner were a “severe, unconstitutional burden.” The decision also agreed with the LPO that the new requirements contained in HB 194 limit the ability of the LPO to participate in the democratic process, a fundamental requirement for a group such as the Libertarian Party that seeks to govern.

“Women fought for the right to vote 100 years ago, minorities fought the same fight 50 years ago, and here we are in the 21st century doing the same thing,” said LPO Chair Kevin Knedler. “At a time when the United States is trying to spread freedom and liberty around the world, it is unfortunate that we have to fight in courtrooms, right here in Ohio, for a basic freedom: the right to have more than just one or two choices on a ballot and the right to privately express ourselves when voting. The fight for our freedoms is not over, but after three federal court wins in five years, we are much closer.”

Several recent public opinion polls have demonstrated growing interest in political alternatives to the two major parties that routinely drive our nation and state to the brink of disaster. The Libertarian Party is that alternative, supporting balanced budgets, common sense laws, and promoting candidates who recognize that the United States Constitution is our nation’s primary source of law.

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in Ohio. Founded in 1971, the LP supports fiscal responsibility and social acceptance. LPO candidates espousing common-sense, middle class values in 2010 collectively earned enough voter trust to garner more than 1,000,000 votes statewide and earned an average of more than five percent for their respective races. The LPO was the only minor party to run a full statewide executive slate in 2010 — the first minor party to do so since 1934 — and had the only gubernatorial candidate bold and honest enough to release a budget plan for Ohio before the General Election.

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