I’m beginning to wonder if our litigation with the State will ever end. The Green Party of TN sued the State in regards to oppressive ballot access laws for minor parties in the fall of 2006. After 3 lawyers, 2 lawsuits and 2 appeals by the state we are still not sure what might happen before the next election. As it stands right now the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to District Court Judge Haynes who once again ruled in our favor. Unfortunately this doesn’t put us back on the ballot since we didn’t reach the qualifying 5% in the Presidential or U.S. Senate race to retain our ballot line.
Here’s the story. Although we had the fabulous ruling from Judge Haynes using strong, definitive language about our rights to form political parties and to be known by association this did not guarantee us a ballot line in 2014. The State Legislature is working on new legislation again and can vote in a new bill making it law immediately. Since the State has appealed Judge Haynes ruling, again, it is in the hands of the Court of Appeals who can rule at any time. They can also sit on it awhile as they did the last time.
There was a glimmer of hope. The Legislature created a committee to look into 3rd Party concerns regarding ballot access legislation. The committee invited a representative of any minor party that wants to participate. Howard Switzer was chosen to represent the Green Party. The Senate committee was instructed to come up with clear and reasonable legislation. Having representatives of 3 minor parties included in the discussion could have resulted in better understanding for the legislators on what the current laws mean to those trying to abide by them. The minor parties met in advance to determine a united front to present to the committee. An interesting group of bedfellows these 3 Musketeers from Green, Libertarian and Constitution Parties worked respectfully and in support of their common goal. Hooray for multi-partisanship.
But, in true TN political fashion, just a few days before the committee was to meet, the Legislature dissolved the committee. No good reasons were offered. Back to square one.