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Rick Perry Gets Court Hearing on Virginia Primary Ballot

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Rick Perry's lawsuit against the state of Virginia has grown in recent days, adding Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum as plaintiffs. The group of Republican presidential candidates has been left off the state's primary ballot -- a move they say violates the First Amendment.

Perry filed suit last week, but the judge refused to halt the printing of the ballots. Instead, he scheduled a hearing for January 13 during which he will consider the larger merits of the case.

Those merits and Rick Perry's lawsuit center on Virginia's ballot law. A candidate must collect 10,000 signatures in order to earn a place on the ballot. But unlike other states, those signatures must be collected by someone who is eligible to vote in Virginia.

Perry, and the other candidates, argue that this limitation severely impeded their ability to collect signatures. Additionally, it violated their rights to engage in political speech.

It's a strange argument, but on some level it is correct.  In 1999, the Supreme Court considered a Colorado law that required petition circulators to be registered voters. The requirement was found to "drastically reduce the number of persons ... available to circulate petitions." This proved to be too big of a burden on political speech, and the law was struck down.

It's possible that the judge will find in favor of the candidates on these grounds. But it's also possible that he will side with Virginia, whose Attorney General points to the candidate's failure to even collect 10,000 signatures.

That's right -- in court papers related to Rick Perry's lawsuit, it plainly states that the candidate only collected 6,000 signatures. He may actually not have standing to sue.

Related Resources:

  • Candidates join Perry's Virginia lawsuit (CNN)
  • Voters and Voting Rights (FindLaw)
  • Are Voter ID Laws Legal? (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)

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