Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Husted, No. 16-3537 (6th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The Libertarian Party challenged Ohio’s ballot qualification law, Rev. Code 3501.38(E)(1), arguing selective enforcement and violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Under the law, a political party may qualify by obtaining at least “three percent of the total vote cast” for governor or president “at the most recent regular state election” or through a petition. A petition-formed party must nominate a candidate for the general election by petition, filed “[n]ot later than one hundred ten days before the” general election, and, for statewide offices, “signed by at least fifty qualified electors who have not voted as a member of a different political party at any primary election within the current year or the immediately preceding two calendar years.” For local office, five qualifying signatures are required. The district court rejected the claims on summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Party did not establish state action with respect to its selective enforcement claim. The Party did not demonstrate that Ohio law deprives it of membership or affiliation in a general sense and was not severely burdened by the requirement that it select candidates by petition, rather than by primary. The state articulated a legitimate interest in its law, sufficient in light of the Party’s claimed burdens.