Sunday, April 25, 2021

Rocky De La Fuente Wins New Jersey Lawsuit on Out-of-State Circulators for Primary Petitions

Ballot Access News

On April 20, a U.S. District Court issued an opinion in Arsenault v Way, 3:16cv-1854, striking down the New Jersey residence requirement for petitioners who wish to circulate petitions for candidates running in primaries. Here is the 21-page decision. The case had been filed in 2016 when Rocky De La Fuente was running in Democratic presidential primaries. He needed 1,000 signatures of registered Democrats in order to get on the New Jersey Democratic presidential primary. He did not get on that ballot; the only candidates who appeared on that ballot were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Originally the U.S. District Court had upheld the restriction, but then the Third Circuit had remanded it and said the lower court should have used the strict scrutiny test. Under that test, the law cannot survive unless the state can show that it has a compelling need for the restriction. The state tried to argue that the Democratic and Republican Parties would be harmed without the restriction, but the two major parties themselves never intervened in the case and the state produced no evidence that the parties would be harmed.

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