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Ballot Access News watching Pennsylvania courts closely

Three recent posts about the Pennsylvania courts at Ballot Access News. The first one gives background into concerns about fairness towards third parties and ballot access.

from Ballot Access News
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Article on Pennsylvania Supreme Court
November 8th, 2009

The November 8 issue of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has this article about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The focus of the article is Orie Melvin, the new justice who was elected by the voters last week. The article suggests that she is a different breed of judge than the other members of that Court, and refers back to some of the reasons that neutral observers have a low opinion of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The article doesn’t mention the treatment that that Court has given to minor party and independent candidates ever since 2004, nor does it mention that in 2008, the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters had filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the justices made a corrupt deal with the legislature. Nor does the article mention that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had turned a blind eye to the scandal in Wilkes-Barre when local state judges accepted bribes from the owner of a juvenile detention home in return for exorbitantly long sentences for juveniles (this is featured in Michael Moore’s movie “Capitalism: A Love Story”).

from Ballot Access News
Nader Again Asks Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Re-hear 2004 Case on $80,000
November 7, 2009

On November 6, 2009, Ralph Nader again asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to rehear the 2004 case over whether it was proper and constitutional for that Court to order him to pay approximately $80,000 to the people who challenged his 2004 petition. In re Nomination Paper of Nader, 94 MAP 2008. Here is the succinct 5-page brief, which makes two points that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has never addressed: (1) the people who challenged Nader’s petition did so in a criminal conspiracy, and some of them have already pleaded guilty; (2) the U.S. Supreme Court, and lower courts, have established over the last 44 years that states cannot charge candidates for the costs of administering elections, except for the limited purpose of keeping ballots uncrowded.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has one new member, elected earlier this week, although she hasn’t taken the oath of office yet.

from Ballot Access News
Court Hearing in Pennsylvania Ballot Access Case Seems to Go Well

October 19th, 2009

On October 19, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel heard oral arguments in The Constitution Party of Pennsylvania, et al, v Cortes, in Philadelphia, case no. 09-1691. The judge did not ask many questions, but he said several times that the case is interesting, and he asked questions about the type of relief that might possibly be granted. The case challenges Pennsylvania’s unique system of requiring candidates and parties to pay the costs of checking their petitions, in case those petitions are held to be inadequate. It also challenges Pennsylvania’s arbitrary standards on which write-ins to tally, and the failure of some counties to count any write-ins. And it challenges the test a party must meet, in order to place nominees on the ballot in regularly-scheduled elections without the need for a petition. That test is that the party must have registration membership of 15% of the state total, which is more than 1,000,000 registered voters.

The other plaintiff political parties besides the Constitution Party are the Green and Libertarian Parties.

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