Fifth Circuit, on a Sunday, Clears Way for New Louisiana U.S. House Districts

On Sunday, June 12, the Fifth Circuit lifted the stay in Robinson v Ardoin, 22-30333. This is a redistricting case for Louisiana U.S. House districts. On June 6 U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick had ruled that Louisiana’s districting plan violates the Voting Rights Act, but on Thursday, June 9, the Fifth Circuit had stayed her order. The June 12 action means that the Louisiana legislature will proceed to draw new districts.

Louisiana has six U.S. House districts, and almost one-third of the population is African American. The issue is whether the state must draws two majority Black districts, or just one. The legislature earlier this year had drawn just one.

The three judges who signed the June 12 order are Stephen A. Higgonson, an Obama appointee; Jerry E. Smith, a Reagan appointee; and Dan R. Willett, a Trump appointee. Here is their order.

The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, had filed an amicus brief, urging the court to retain the districts the legislature had drawn earlier this year.

Louisiana does not have congressional primaries; it only has a general election in November. If no one gets 50%, there is a December run-off. This is a key fact in allowing the courts to act so late in the year. The Fifth Circuit noted that almost every congressional candidate gets on the Louisiana ballot by paying a filing fee, and that also makes it possible for the districts to change as late as June of an election year.

Challenge to Connecticut Primary Petition Requirements for Legislative Candidates Reaches Second Circuit

On June 10, Andy Gottlieb filed his brief in the Second Circuit in his ballot access case, Gottlieb v Lamont, 22-449. The issue is the Connecticut petition requirement for legislative candidates, 5% of the number of registered voters who are enrolled in that party, to be collected in only 14 days. Here is the opening brief. The U.S. District Court had upheld the requirements.

Two New York Petitioning Parties Blast Democratic Party for Challenging All Statewide Petitions

The Yonkers Times has this article about the Democratic Party’s challenge to all the statewide petitions filed by the nominees of unqualified parties. The article came about because the Green Party and the Unite New York Party issued a press release, criticizing the Democratic Party for its challenges.

The article says that seven gubernatorial candidates filed petitions. Groups that have their own nominee are the Green, Libertarian, and Unite NY Parties. Groups that put Lee Zeldin, the likely Republican nominee on their petition, are Independence and Parents. It is not known whom the Freedom and New Vision Parties listed for Governor.

The article does not mention an independent petition filed for U.S. Senate, for Diane Sare, and that petition has not been challenged. She submitted approximately 60,000 signatures.

New York Petitioning Process Criticized in Article in “City Limits”

The publication City Limits has this long story about petitioning in New York state. There isn’t a great deal of new material in the story, but it does quote a lot of candidates who complain about the system. Only toward the end does the article mention the alternate idea of filing fees. In most states, no petition whatever is needed to get on a primary ballot. Those states depend on filing fees to keep the ballot from being too crowded.

Tennessee Supreme Court Removes Robby Starbuck Newsom from Republican Primary Ballot

On June 10, the Tennessee Supreme Court removed Bobby Starbuck Newsom from the August 2022 Republican primary ballot. He has been trying to run for U.S. House this year, but the Republican Party has a new bylaw, barring candidates in its primary who did not vote in three of the last four Republican primaries. Newsom couldn’t comply with that because he hasn’t lived in Tennessee long enough.

First he sued in federal court, charging that the new rule imposes a qualification to run for congress that is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but the U.S. District Court ruled against injunctive relief. Then he dismissed his federal case and sued the Republican Party for having violated the state’s open meetings law when it removed him. He won injunctive relief in the state trial court, but the Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed that, saying the open records law only applies to political parties when they are acting as an election administration body. Here is the 7-page decision in Newsom v Tennessee Republican Party, M2022-00735.