No, really, I mean it, says Judge Karen Schreier. Kurt Evans and Wayne Schmidt don’t get spots on the 2016 ballot.
In an August 31 ruling, Judge Schreier reiterates the logic of her August 15 ruling, in which she said she cannot let the Constitution Party run Evans for U.S. Senate and Schmidt for District 23 House because the litigants are not challenging the specific statutes keeping Evans and Schmidt off the ballot. The Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party complaint challenges SDCL 12-5-1, which sets the petition requirements and deadline for new political parties to gain official recognition and permission to participate in the primaries. The Evans/Schmidt ballot access claim hinges on overturning either SDCL 12-5-21, which lists the statewide offices for which parties may nominate candidates at convention, without a primary, or SDCL 12-6-1 and SDCL 12-6-4, which set the end-of-March petition deadline for party candidates for offices requiring a primary.
The plaintiffs did argue after the August 15 ruling that they have addressed those statutes and that the judge has an obligation to restore the rights those other statutes abridge. Judge Schreier says that relief can only come if the plaintiffs prevail in their complaint, and they have not prevailed, and that even then, the relief the court may offer won’t be the permanent injunction and ballot access the plaintiffs are demanding for Evans and Schmidt.
Note that Judge Schreier still isn’t giving a final ruling on the fundamental constitutional questions of whether South Dakota’s party-organization deadline is too early or whether requiring some statewide candidates but not others to stand for primaries serves a compelling state interest. We may need a whole nother lawsuit to draw useful answers to both questions… or the Constitution Party may just need to get its act together and recruit a gubernatorial candidate who can win enough votes to keep its party status in 2018.