The Eighth Circuit ruling does not disappoint me in affirming the district court’s decision last fall to reject Walker’s ballot-access lawsuit. Candidates who lie on their nominating petitions should not be allowed on the ballot. Even if somewhere deep down in his tormented soul Walker had some legitimate argument for the courts, he was unable to translate it into coherent prose in his handwritten September 26, 2014, complaint.
Walker cited a few cases but then dissolved into blurts of tyranny! and unsubstantiated allegations that the citizen petition challenge that prompted Secretary of State Jason Gant to reject his nominating petition was invalid.
What does disappoint me is that Walker’s bumbling litigation has given the courts an excuse to say that South Dakota’s “nominating-petition deadline and signature requirement” are “reasonable” and constitutional. That conclusion, dashed off by the Eighth Circuit judges in a seemingly cursory fashion as if wanting to dispose of Walker’s moot case and handwriting as quickly as possible, does not square with a case Walker did cite, Nader v. Hazeltine (2000), in which the Eighth Circuit (including Judge Loken, who also heard Walker’s appeal) said that South Dakota could not constitutionally move the deadline for Independent presidential candidates back from August to June.
Related logic lies in Libertarians v. Kundert (1984), in which the plaintiffs successfully argued that requiring new parties to file their formation petition 120 days before the primary unconstitutionally burdens their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to vote, associate, and express themselves. Third parties, the plaintiffs argued, often form and win support based on voters’ dissatisfaction with the platforms and candidates of existing parties. Those platforms and candidates usually aren’t set until after the primary, so requiring new parties to form 120 days before the primary places an unconstitutional practical barrier to new parties’ formation and participation in elections. The same argument could be made for requiring Independents to file their petitions at the end of April, five or six weeks before the June primary tells voters just how bad their main-party choices are.
Alas, Walker’s pencil must have run out of lead. We’ll need to wait for another Independent, or maybe a Libertarian with good Underwood, to make that argument next election season.