The Supreme Court of Ohio yesterday upheld a ruling to keep the state's Libertarian Party (LPO) candidate for attorney general off the ballot.
Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, shot down Libertarian Steve Linnabary's bid last month on a technicality. He determined that because the LPO's hired signature-gatherer did not list the party as his employer, the petition to get on the ballot was invalid.
Linnabary went to court. The Columbus Dispatch reports on the unanimous decision against him:
The justices ruled that Husted's interpretation of state law was "reasonable" in rejecting Linnabary's argument that one of his circulators was an independent contractor, rather than an employee, and not required to list an employer.
The court also found no substance to other issues raised by Linnabary, a Columbus resident, including claims that the First Amendment free-speech and due-process rights were violated.
"We are disappointed. This is the first time that qualified candidates were cut off at the threshold because their circulators did not disclose their employment. This deprives Ohio voters of choice, and this is neither right nor fair," said Mark G. Kafantaris, a Columbus lawyer representing Linnabary.
The disqualified candidate indicated that he may take his case to a federal appeals court.
This isn't the first case of its kind. Last month, Libertarians accused the GOP of some shady business to get the LPO's gubernatorial candidate booted from the ballot. Although a district court upheld the decision by Husted to ban the Libertarian, the court did acknowledge that the Republicans deliberately targeted the third-party opponent.
The LPO is small, but the party can still have real repercussions on Ohio elections. Current Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, is running for reelection. The GOP likely doesn't want any extra competition in November, since DeWine eked out a win for the the position in 2010 with only 47.5 percent of the vote. His Democratic competitor fell 1.5 percent behind. The Libertarian candidate captured 2.8 percent of the vote.