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Federal court strikes down Arizona election law in Nader challenge appeal

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Wednesday ruled [opinion, PDF] that an Arizona election law requiring that independent presidential candidates register earlier than those affiliated with political parties was unconstitutional. Presidential candidate Ralph Nader [campaign website] had filed a challenge to the deadline, arguing that it violated his rights to free speech under the First Amendment [text]. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer [official website] had argued that the early registration requirement was necessary to give the state time to print accurate ballots, but the court ruled that the same deadline should be imposed on all candidates. The appellate court also overturned a law that only state residents could circulate nomination petitions, finding that the regulation was not sufficiently narrowly tailored to address the state's ostensible anti-fraud goals. Nader had argued the regulation violated his Fourteenth Amendment [text] right to free association. Brewer said that the state may appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court. Capitol Media Services has more.

The case stems from Nader's 2004 presidency bid. Also in 2004, Nader asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website] to restore his name to the state's presidential ballot after the state Commonwealth Court invalidated his nominating petition [JURIST report; opinion and order, PDF]. Nader argued that the Commonwealth Court erred in its decision by ruling that petition signatories needed to be registered voters rather than qualified electors.

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