On August 9, the Sixth Circuit issued a 7-page order, denying the request of Tennessee election officials to remove the Green Party and the Constitution Party from the November 2012 ballot. However, the Sixth Circuit did grant the state’s request for a stay of the U.S. District Court order that said there must be a random procedure to give each party an equal chance to get the top line on the ballot.
In February 2012, a U.S. District Court in Tennessee had struck down the state’s ballot access law for newly-qualifying parties, and had also ordered the state to print the two plaintiff parties on the 2012 ballot. The U.S. District Court had also struck down the law, giving the two largest parties the best spots on the ballot.
The Sixth Circuit has not decided any of these issues at this time. Instead, the Court simply set forth what rules should be in place, pending a decision. The order says, “The state has not shown why the plaintiffs’ past support – which, as noted by the district court, consists of nearly 20,000 votes for the Green Party and almost 10,000 signatures for the Constitution Party – is so insubstantial as to create a real possibility of frustrating the State’s democratic process.” The reference to the 10,000 signatures for the Constitution Party, and the 20,000 votes for the Green Party, is to past elections, not anything related to this year’s election.