COURT RULES CANDIDATE SHOULD HAVE SUED BEFORE HE KNEW OF PROBLEM
For Immediate Release. Friday, September 21, 2012.
Gary E. Johnson, Austin, Texas, 512-441-6378.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Gary E. Johnson of Austin, Texas, may not be on the Michigan ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate for President. Nor may any Libertarian candidate for President or Vice President.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled Friday, September 21, that Johnson should have filed his lawsuit to place his name on the ballot 128 days before Michigan first revealed that it was refusing to place his name on the ballot.
The judges did not rule on the merits of the case but only said that, “by the doctrine of laches,” Johnson should have sued four months before he was told there was a problem.
Johnson said of the verdict, “The courts are expecting me to do the impossible.”
The state of Michigan first notified the Libertarian Party of Michigan that it would not print Johnson’s name on the general election ballot in a letter dated Friday, September 7. Johnson filed a lawsuit four calendar days later on Tuesday, September 11, demanding that the ballot include his name.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney of the Southern Division of the Western District of Michigan scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, September 18. But he canceled it at the last minute and ruled on Monday, September 17, that Johnson should have sued in May.
Maloney wrote, “The question that baffles this court is why the instant claims were not filed much earlier.”
He added, “Gary E. Johnson has had grounds to claim a place on the ballot as early as May 2.”
Sixth Circuit judges Damon J. Keith, Boyce F. Martin, Jr., and John M. Rogers agreed on appeal September 21.
Johnson said after the verdict, “May 2 was 128 days before Michigan first disclosed that it would refuse to print my name on the ballot and it was 31 days before I was nominated. What do the courts want me to do? Hop in a time machine?”
Maloney emphasized, “Plaintiffs did not file suit to establish Gary E. Johnson’s status until September 11, just days before the Secretary was scheduled to send ballots to the printer.”
Johnson commented, “These judges have it backwards. I sued as soon as possible. It was the Secretary of State who waited until just days before the ballots were to be printed to tell us that my name would not be on the ballot.”
The latest appeals court ruling came after a series of court challenges by the Libertarian Party of Michigan, Gary E. Johnson of Texas, and Gary Johnson of New Mexico.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson started running for President as a Republican in 2011. He withdrew from the Republican campaign in late November and switched to the Libertarian Party in December.
His name was on the Republican Presidential primary ballot on February 28 despite his earlier effort to withdraw.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s office sent a letter in May to the Libertarian Party of Michigan saying that, because of the state’s “sore loser” law, Governor Johnson could not be on the general election ballot. The law prohibits candidates who appear on the primary election ballot of one party from running as the candidate of another party in November.
The Libertarian Party sued to challenge the legality of applying the sore loser law to Presidential candidates.
Meanwhile, the party nominated both Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Gary Johnson of Texas for President at its state convention in Livonia on Saturday, June 2, and officially notified the state of its decision on Monday, June 4. The Governor was the party’s first choice and Johnson of Texas, a former national secretary of the party, was their “stand-in” substitute if the challenge to sore loser law did not prevail.
The state party lost its lawsuit on the sore loser law on Friday, September 7, and Governor Johnson was barred from the Michigan ballot. Later that day, Michigan first announced that it would not allow Johnson of Texas as a backup candidate.
Michigan was the only state where the Libertarian Party attempted to run a stand-in candidate for President.
Neither the state of Michigan nor the federal courts explained why the name of the Libertarian Party candidate for Vice President, former California Judge Jim Gray, would not be on the Michigan ballot.
Ballot Access News reported on September 20 that Michigan said it will count write-in votes for Governor Johnson.
The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in Michigan and is running a slate of candidates for U.S. Senator, all 14 Congressional Districts, and other offices.
The Libertarian ticket of Johnson and Gray will be on ballot in at least 47 states and the District of Columbia. A court challenge remains in Pennsylvania. The ticket is not on the ballot in Oklahoma.