The Tennesseean reports the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Tennessee’s ballot access standards violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Chief Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote, “Tennessee’s ballot-retention statute clearly imposes a heavier burden on minor parties than major parties by giving minor parties less time to obtain the same level of electoral success as established parties.” The Tennessee Constitution and Green parties had filed the suit.
The newspaper says the ruling “means Tennessee’s requirements for minor parties to get their candidates on a ballot can’t be enforced.” Tennessee Green Party Co-Chair Kate Culver told the newspaper, “This is huge for the potential for third parties to have a voice in the political arena.”
A spokesman for Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett “said his office is reviewing the court’s decision to determine what action the state might take next.” Last year, members of the state Constitution, Green, and Libertarian parties met with state legislators to suggest reforms, “but lawmakers have yet to take action on any offered bills.”