The order from United States Court of Appeals Clerk Deborah S. Hunt was short and to the point: “Upon review of the plaintiffs-appellants’ motion for emergency relief pending appeal and/or to expedite briefing, it hereby is ORDERED that briefing in this appeal be expedited. The clerk is directed to enter a briefing schedule, with briefing to be completed by July 15, 2016.”
It was also sweet for plaintiff’s co-attorneys Mark Brown and Mark G. Kafantaris, who after first being rejected by the Ohio Elections Commission was then dismissed by two court judges—one Franklin County administrative judge and then one Federal magistrate, who each had a chance but declined to shine a light on the inner workings of a political scheme orchestrated by Gov. Kasich, with support from Republican players including the secretary of state and the state party, to kick a potentially troubling candidate, Charlie Earl, off the 2014 ballot.
Kasich Caper Not Dead Yet
That campaign ploy enabled Gov. Kasich to enjoy an obstacle-free path to a reelection that would serve as rationale for running for the White House. As rewards for busting Mr. Earl of the ballot, Gov. Kasich would claim popularity and a big percentage win margin, even though voter turnout was the lowest since World War II with Mr. Kasich only netting fewer than one in four registered voters.
Unlike any other Ohio media, Plunderbund has covered this case extensively. While some of Ohio’s Kasich-friendly newspapers and reporters seem willfully oblivious to the Nixon-era dirty trick that lies at center of the case—Case No. 16-3537, Libertarian Party of Ohio, et al v. Jon Husted, et al Originating Case No. : 2:13-cv-00953. Plunderbund has not been as charitable to an official and campaign that went to extreme lengths to disrupt a democratic process that would have given voters another choice just two years ago.
John Kasich’s run for president—which lasted far too long based on his poor performance in the field—would have not even been possible had he lost his reelection campaign for a second term. Yet for a while, that’s the thought that camp Kasich contemplated, which in turn triggered a series of events orchestrated by long-time political friends and operatives of Mr. Kasich to seek out a dupe who could be used to protest the candidacy of Charlie Earl, the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s candidate for governor, who had no chance to win the vote but who could have caused trouble for Ohio’s lame duck governor had the election been close.
Asked if this finally means good news for plaintiffs, Capital Law School law professor Mark Brown was thumbs up. “Yes, and it is expedited so we can win relief before November election. Good news.” He added, “We will submit written briefs by July 15, 2016.”
S.B 193 Rules Constitutional
In separate but related news, the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas released a decision today that upholds SB 193 as constitutional. S.B. 193 was passed and signed on November 6, 2013 and took effect on or about February 5, 2014. LPO then challenged it in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on November 8, 2013. The Southern District of Ohio dismissed LPO’s claim that S.B. 193 violates Article V, § 7 of the Ohio Constitution for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on October 14, 2015. LPO unsuccessfully appealed that dismissal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declared Ohio’s previous minor party ballot access law unconstitutional in Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Blackwell. From 2008 to 2014, LPO sought and had access to Ohio’s primary ballot.
LPO sought, and was granted, a preliminary injunction by the Southern District of Ohio, preventing Secretary Husted from retroactively enforcing S.B. 193. The preliminary injunction was issued on the ground that changing ballot access law in the midst of an election cycle violated due process.
S.B. 193 expressly voids the Secretary of State’s previous directives which recognized minor parties as ballot qualified for both primary and general elections. Instead, S.B. 193 provides two methods for a political group to obtain minor party recognition and qualify for ballot access. The first method provides that a minor party may obtain party status if its candidate for governor or nominee for presidential electors obtain the requisite number of votes. The second method provides that a minor party may obtain recognition by filing a formation petition.
“This Court notes that the State has met the standard discussed in the Concurrence by putting forth precise interests and supporting those interests with statistical data. Based on the foregoing, this Court finds that the LPO cannot overcome the presumption of constitutionality afforded to S.B. 193. The State’s interest in avoiding unnecessary expense justifies the reasonable ballot access requirements set forth by S.B. 193,” today’s ruling by Judge David C. Young stated.
Judge Young’s Conclusion
“Secretary Husted and AG DeWine have met their burden, pursuant to Civ.R. 56, and demonstrated that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. LPO then failed to show that genuine issues exist,” Judge Young wrote. “For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS the Motion of Defendants Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for Summary Judgment filed February 19, 2016. This matter is hereby DISMISSED. Further, based upon this ruling, Plaintiff LPO’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed January 19, 2016 has been RENDERED MOOT. This is a final, appealable order.”
Mr. Brown said LPO will ask the court to stay that decision until after the US Court of Appeals has a chance to rule in the federal challenge.