It's too early to tell what impact this decision will have on Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Mike Frerich's efforts to keep a third-party candidate off the ballot.
But a federal appeals court in Chicago Monday issued a major opinion that appears to shred Illinois election laws designed to block any candidates other than Democrats and Republicans from access to the ballot.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the ruling requires some affirmative effort by the Legislature to rewrite those laws before allowing ballot access or if third-party candidates now will be given carte blanche to be placed on the ballot. Certainly, the state can and probably will try to appeal, although this unanimous ruling would appear to doom any realistic chances of review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
My initial now-lawyer analysis is that this ruling changes everything for third-party candidates. I speculate that third-party candidates will win ballot access at some point in the future if they present any kind of substantitive petitions similar to those of regular party candidates.
This news will not be welcomed by party honchos, especially Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. It's too bad for him that he doesn't own federal judges the way he does state judges, although in this case U.S. Judge Jeanne Scott, a Democratic appointee who sits in Springfield, was more than happy to ignore the U.S. Constitution. At least that's how the federal appeals court judges viewed it.
This is from the web site How Appealing.
from Sept. 18
"In combination, the ballot access requirements for independent legislative candidates in Illinois--the early filing deadline, the 10% signature requirement, and the additional statutory restriction that disqualifies anyone who signs an independent candidate's nominating petition from voting in the primary--operate to unconstitutionally burden the freedom of political association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments." That's the conclusion that a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reached in an opinion issued today. Circuit Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote the opinion.