San Francisco, CA – On Monday, April 17th the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Plaintiff’s emergency motion requesting injunctive relief – access to Montana’s May 25 Special Election ballot for U.S. Representative.
Today, in response to the ruling, Montana Green Party candidate, Thomas Breck, and Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, will continue to fight to get on the ballot. Plaintiffs filed an emergency application for an injunction at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
Breck said: “We are disappointed in the failure of the Ninth Circuit Court to issue an injunction requiring the Montana Secretary of State to add the Montana Green Party’s candidate onto the special election ballot. It is the constitutional right of each American to be given the opportunity to participate as a candidate, and vote for a candidate that represents their ideals.”
This ballot-access battle began on March 1, 2017, when U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke resigned from Congress, effective immediately, in order to take office as Secretary of Interior. On the same day, Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered a special election to fill the vacancy, setting the election for May 25, 2017 – 85 days following the vacancy – which was the earliest date allowed by Montana law. Qualified-party candidates need only file a declaration and oath of candidacy form and pay a filing fee no later than 75 days before the election.
Independent and minor-party candidates, on the other hand, can appear on the special-election ballot only if the candidate or party submits declaration and oath of candidacy form and a nominating petition containing a sufficient number of signatures no later than 82 days before the election. The number of signatures required on a nominating petition for a special election is the same number required for a general election: 5% or more of the total vote cast for the successful candidate for the same office at the last general election – or, this case,14,268 valid signatures. The filing fee for the May 25 special election is $1,740. That’s over 14,000 signatures in a 5-day window. Even Superman couldn’t pull that off.
On March 21, Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, both Bozeman residents, and Thomas Breck, Green Party candidate from Missoula, filed suit in federal district court in Great Falls challenging Montana’s special-election laws governing ‘minor party’ and independent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. The lawsuit claims that the Montana Secretary of State, Cory Stapleton, violated rights guaranteed to plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Kelly is an artist and environmental activist and has twice qualified as a candidate for Montana’s lone seat in U.S. House of Representatives. In 1994, as an independent, he garnered over 9% of the vote statewide. He won the Democratic Party’s primary election in 2002, winning over 33% of the vote in the general election that year.
The corrosive power of party corruption and big money was on full display in the 2016 election. People are sick of it – it’s high time we let the people decide. Plaintiffs have taken a stand against tyranny and other abuses of authoritarian power employed to oppress and deny rights guaranteed to the people in the Constitution.
On April 8, The Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction and enjoined the State from enforcing Montana’s ballot access laws to the extent that it requires an independent or minor party candidate to obtain in excess of 400 valid signatures in order to appear on the ballot for the May 25, 2017, special election.
Here’s the catch: The deadline for submitting the court-ordered number, 400 signatures, instead of the original 14,268, was not changed from the original date, March 6. The court’s retroactive deadline effectively denied any opportunity for plaintiffs to appear on the ballot, in spite of the court’s acknowledgement that the state’s election scheme is unconstitutional.
On April 9, Plaintiffs appealed the limiting scope of the injunction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the Order effectively prohibited Plaintiffs from appearing on the May 25 special-election ballot.
As we saw in 2000 with the Gore vs. Bush debacle at the U.S. Supreme Court, judges are an integral part of “the (funky, funky) system” that maintains order for the ruling class. Whether elected, or appointed for lifetime terms, the judiciary is made up of “captive actors,” just like bureaucrats the EPA or the president and his White House staff.
On April 11, Plaintiffs’ motion was “granted to the extent that it requests a stay pending the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of the Plaintiffs’ appeal.”
On April 17, Appellants’ emergency motion requesting injunctive relief pending appeal was denied by 9th Circuit Judges Silverman, KcKeown and Hurwitz. No explanation from the court was given in the 1 ½-page Order.
So, we’re off to see the wizard(s) at the Supreme Court.