Say what you will about politics in general, or Montana politics in particular, but don’t put your popcorn away just yet.
Yesterday in Great Falls a federal district magistrate breathed new life into Montana Green Party’s chances of rising from the ashes of defeat by the Montana Supreme Court. The Supremes upheld the District Court’s Opinion, which removed Greens from the 2018 ballot over a small number of “irregular” signatures in several voting districts.
If Greens win in federal court, look for them to return stronger and a little wiser, appearing on the 2020 general election ballot with a fresh slate of candidates, including the Governor’s race.
Magistrate John Johnston denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, if Plaintiffs would agree to submit an amended Complaint for clarification. (Montana Green Party, et al. v. Cory Stapleton, Montana Sec. of State) Apparently, the State of Montana could not understand the clear language of the original Complaint, which claimed glaring violations of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In the end, it was a form-over-substance problem, which all parties agreed would be remedied with a more structured (fragmented) presentation of Claims.
These type of delaying motions and trivial arguments are often indicative of a weak legal case on the merits.
“The lawsuit was filed after a state judge last year removed the Green Party from the 2018 election ballot. More than double the required 5,000 voters signed a petition to put the party on the ballot, but the party fell short of gathering valid signatures from at least 38 state House Districts.”
Green Party plaintiffs are seeking to strike down Montana’s minor party qualification requirements and place them on the ballot. Several U.S. Supreme Court precedent cases support the claims raised in this ballot-access lawsuit.
Stay tuned, I predict there’s a lot more legal wrangling that will play out in the coming months.