Libertarian Party of Ohio Suit Against SB 193 to Gain Allies

Thanksgiving week saw two developments in the court fight against SB 193—the John Kasich Re-election Protection Act—which removes all parties other than Republicans and Democrats from the 2014 Ohio election.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Columbus seeking to add the Ohio Green Party and the Constitution Party of Ohio to the suit the Libertarian Party of Ohio filed on Nov. 8, two days after Kasich signed SB 193.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. District Court set a status conference for the lawsuit for Wed., Dec. 4. LPO leaders and their attorneys will be at the conference, at which the court is expected to set deadlines for the briefs on each side. It is likely that the deadlines will all be in December.

“Our legal team expects that the court will move quickly on this issue since we are now less than a year away from the general election and almost two months before the Feb. 5, 2014 deadline for candidates to file for the 2014 primary election,” said LPO Executive Committee Chair Kevin Knedler.

Without court action, SB 193 is slated to take full effect just before Feb. 5, 2014.

In addition to removing all challenger political parties from the 2014 ballot, SB 193 takes away their right to a primary election as guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution. It also effectively limits challenger parties and candidates to about 90 days of campaigning before the 2014 general election.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the Libertarian Party of Ohio won a legal challenge in federal court in a voting rights case that could signal how the same court might rule on SB 193.

Judge Michael H. Watson, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, granted an injunction sought by the LPO against enforcement of SB 47, a measure enacted in July banning any Ohio group or candidate from using out-of-state signature gatherers for petition efforts.

“We don’t think it’s a coincidence that they passed the unconstitutional restrictions on petitioning a couple of months before Seitz introduced SB 193, which requires the Libertarian Party and other challenger parties to get tens of thousands of signatures in a short time period while the big-government parties are busy campaigning,” said Kevin Knedler, LPO executive committee chair. “We certainly hope the court is seeing this clear pattern of political suppression from the same people and will block SB 193.”

The LPO has consistently lobbied the state legislature for a fair election law since 2006, when federal courts in LPO v. Blackwell struck down a law concerning “minor” political parties. Since then, the LPO has won two more federal court fights over ballot access.

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