The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last week reversed a lower court and directed more testimony in a case by Mark Moore and others challenging the deadlines for independent candidates to file for election in Arkansas.
Moore said the law requiring the same filing deadline for independent candidates, a year before the November general election was too early since independents only appear on November ballots. Party candidates have spring primary elections. Secretary of State Mark Martin had argued for the early deadline because he said the press of validating signatures on petitions for independent candidates along with those for ballot initiatives could be impossible in a short time window. A lower court had ruled for Martin, but the 8th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision held that there was a factual dispute that needed to be developed further.
Judge Lavenski Smith of Arkansas dissented. He said Moore was entitled to the judgment because Mark Martin had failed to demonstrate a genuine conflict between processing independent candidate and ballot initiative petitions.
Blogger Eugene Volokh boiled it down this way in the Washington Post:
Do recent changes to Arkansas’s ballot-access law make it unconstitutionally hard for independent candidates to get on the ballot? Eighth Circuit: Perhaps, but we need more facts. Dissent: The state already had a chance to present facts and it blew it. So, yes, the law is unconstitutional.