California Case on Under Age-35 Presidential Candidates Appears Likely to Extend Into 2013

On April 3, 2012, the Peace & Freedom Party had filed a federal lawsuit in Sacramento, to overturn the California Secretary of State’s decision to bar Peta Lindsay from the party’s presidential primary ballot. U.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell had declined to issue an injunction to put her on the ballot. She freely admits that she is under the age of 35.

On September 6, the Secretary of State had then filed a motion to dismiss the case. Judge Burrell has not yet acted on that motion. On September 20, he reset the pretrial scheduling conference in this case from October 1 to November 26, at 9 a.m. He would probably not have done that if he expected to dismiss the case without a trial.

The California Secretary of State has taken internally inconsistent positions on whether to print candidates on the ballot who do not meet the constitutional requirements to hold the office. On the one hand, she kept Lindsay off the presidential primary ballot. On the other hand, she puts candidates for the legislature on the ballot, whether they meet the State Constitution’s requirement that they have lived in the district for at least one year, under the theory that she cannot judge the qualifications; only the legislature can do that. This is true, even in instances at which there is no dispute that the legislative candidate does not meet the duration of residency requirement.


  1. The US Constitution states you have to be 35 to be president. Why is she even on the ballot? The Peace & Freedom Party shouldn’t be allowed to place someone on the ballot who isn’t qualified to be President. They are a joke.

  2. Richard Winger · · Reply

    Henry Clay was elected to the US Senate, to a term that started before he was age 30. The Senate seated him anyway.

    There are reasons why people may want to run for office, even if they can’t be sworn in. Everyone knows the Party for Socialism and Liberation, in the year 2012, is not going to elect a President. The party chose Peta Lindsay because the party believed she was the best spokesperson for their point of view. The party wants to get young people involved in politics and feels that a young presidential candidate can represent her generation and get some thoughts across. What’s wrong with that? What harm does it do? Remember, the true candidates in November are the presidential elector candidates. In any event, this case just involves a presidential primary of a party that wanted her in its primary. Why should non-members of the party tell the party that it can’t allow that?

  3. #1, as Richard points out in his original post, California law gives the Secretary of State some discretion about who to put on the ballot. She has chosen to exercise that discretion in a politically discriminatory way. If the statute really allows that kind of discrimination, then it is unconstitutional. Alternatively, if the statute is constitutional, then it doesn’t give her the kind of discretion she has attempted to exercise.

    If California wants to pass a statute that explicitly requires the Secretary of State to make a determination whether or not each candidate meets the constitutional requirements for the office she or he is seeking, that’s a separate discussion. Such a statute might well be unconstitutional as applied to federal offices, although it would probably be OK under the state constitution for state and local offices.

    What California cannot do is give the Secretary of State the authority to exclude some candidates on this basis (or any other basis) but not exclude other candidates who fall into the same category.

  4. The second paragraph of #3 above is probably wrong with respect to the state legislature. See California Constitution, Article IV Section 5(a): “Each house shall judge the qualifications and elections of its Members …”

  5. Demo Rep · · Reply

    See 20 Amdt, Sec. 3 — qualify stuff.

  6. Votes for these minor parties are purely symbolic so I don’t see what difference it makes. Some party should run an illegal alien or other admitted non-citizen for President and challenge the states that refuse to put him/her on the ballot.

  7. natural born citizen party · · Reply

    Some party already has run an illegal alien or other admitted non-citizen for President and been challenged in various states to not put him on the ballot.

    JUDICIAL NOTICE: USDC-DCD 11-2189: POTUS/CINC eligibility NBC (natural born citizen) NOT amended by 14th Amendment Re:

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