Saturday, February 17, 2018

Independent Party Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Its Lawsuit over Whether it May Attempt to Get on California Ballot

Ballot Access News

On February 15, the Independent Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Independent Party v Padilla. The California election law says when a group wishes to qualify as a political party, it must notify the Secretary of State, who in turn will notify each county elections office to tally the number of registered voters in that group. If the group persuades at least 60,000 or so voters to join it (on voter registration forms) then it becomes qualified.
The Independent Party asked the Secretary of State for such a tally, but he refused, saying the name of the Independent Party is too similar to the name of the already-qualified American Independent Party. Ever since 1891, California has banned two parties from having names that are too similar. However, the law has never before been interpreted to ban two parties from having the same word in their names. California permitted both the Democratic Party and the National Democratic Party to be on the ballot in 1896. Also, in 1900, it allowed both the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party to be on the ballot (later the Social Democratic Party changed its name to the Socialist Party). And in 1912, it allowed both the Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party to be on the ballot, in one Assembly district.
The Ninth Circuit opinion was only four pages, and virtually ignored the issue of when two party names are too similar to each other. Instead, the Ninth Circuit expressed the opinion that for a group to call itself the Independent Party was fraudulent. The Ninth Circuit ignored the record, which showed that ballot-qualified parties named Independent Party exist now in Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, and Louisiana, and were ballot-qualified in eight other states in the recent past (Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont).
At one time or another, 47 of the 50 states have had two parties on the ballot simultaneously that shared a common word in their names. If it had not been possible for parties to share a word in their names, the various socialist parties, such as the Socialist Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Socialist Workers Party, Workers World, could not have existed.

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