Sixth Circuit Preserves Ballot Spot in Tennessee for Green Party and Constitution Party

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.


  1. J.D. FARGO · · Reply


  2. How will this ruling affect other minor parties, such as the Libertarians? The LP was on the original lawsuit filed in 2010 and won. The LP was not a party in these recent two lawsuits. What would be the likely outcome if the LP filed a lawsuit and cited the previous case they had won and the two won by the GP and the CP?

  3. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #2, the Tennessee Libertarians have never really tried to petition for party status in Tennessee, and have never had a really big vote for president (when on as independents), so they probably couldn’t establish the same record that the other two parties had. If the 6th circuit ultimately agrees that the petition requirement is too hard, that will benefit the LP in future elections.

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