Goldstein v. Secretary of the CommonwealthAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court granted Plaintiffs' emergency petition and allowed Plaintiff's application for declaratory relief to the extent that this Court declares, in light of emergency circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, that the minimum signature requirements in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 53, 7 and 44 for candidates in the September 1, 2020 primary election are unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs argued that, in the context of the current pandemic, the minimum signature requirements to be listed on the ballot for a party's nomination posed an unconstitutionally undue burden on Massachusetts would-be candidates' constitutional right to seek elective office. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) application of the signature requirements in the context of the current public health crisis imposes a severe burden a candidate's right to gain access to the September 1 primary ballot, triggering heightened scrutiny; and (2) in this time of pandemic, the justification for the current signature requirements cannot survive this scrutiny and are unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs. The Court fashioned equitable relief intended to substantially diminish that burden while respecting the legislative purpose for imposing minimum signature requirements.