Navarro v. Neal, No. 12-3572 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Under Illinois law, a candidate for the state legislature seeking placement on the general election ballot without having participated in a primary (or having replaced a candidate who did) must submit a nominating petition signed by a certain number of eligible voters. In July 2012, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners determined that five Republican candidates for the state legislature had not collected the requisite numbers of signatures and denied their petitions to be listed on the ballot in the 2012 general election. In September the candidates and supporters sought injunctive and declaratory relief, alleging that the statutory scheme violated their constitutional rights to free speech and association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court dismissed, holding that the doctrine of laches barred their claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, after holding that laches does not apply because the delay in filing suit did not impact the Board’’ ability to fashion prospective relief in future elections. The requirement that candidates seeking ballot access submit nominating petitions is reasonable and nondiscriminatory, and serves the important regulatory interests of protecting the integrity of elections from frivolous candidates and preventing voter confusion; it does not unconstitutionally burden the candidates’ and voters’ expressive and associational rights.