Rule of Law

Perry Appeals Virginia Ballot Ruling to Fourth Circuit

Governor Rick Perry has appealed Friday’s federal court decision which ruled his name could not appear on the Virginia primary ballot.  The first brief filed in the appeal by Perry is here. 

On Friday, the district court found that Virginia’s ballot access law is unconstitutional, but ruled that the cases were filed too late and the doctrine of laches barred relief.  This was a big victory for Perry and the other campaigns challenging Virginia’s law.   (Disclosure: I am one of the attorneys on the case representing different candidates).  It is not accurate to say, as some have, that Perry didn’t “know how” to get on the ballot.

Virginia has a law which unconstitutionally restricts political speech to only residents of Virginia.  Only Virginia residents are allowed to circulate petitions seeking to have candidates placed on the ballot.  The restriction violates the First Amendment.  For example, who would defend a law that requires a license to attend church or publish a newspaper by saying this or that person was able to obtain the license without any trouble?  Who would say the newspaper license isn’t burdensome because some newspapers were able and willing to pay it?

The same is true in Virginia.  The law at issue will soon either be struck down in another case, or the Fourth Circuit will require more candidates to be added to the Virginia ballot.  Unfortunately, it will cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth a bundle in the meantime.