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Federal appeals court sends Georgia ballot-access case back to lower court
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Federal appeals court sends Georgia ballot-access case back to lower court

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Wednesday remanded a case brought by the Libertarian Party of Georgia challenging the state’s ballot-access law to the lower court for failing to address the constitutionality of the law.

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia had granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the Georgia Secretary of State, concluding it did not need to apply the Supreme Court’s test for the constitutionality of ballot-access measures, established in Anderson v. Celebreeze. The summary judgment has been vacated and the district court will need to apply the Anderson test and consider the Equal Protection clause.

The Georgia law requires third-party candidates to submit petitions signed by 5 percent of the voters eligible to vote for that office in the last election. The Libertarian Party of Georgia introduced evidence that no third-party candidate has met that threshold, despite the fact that more than 20 candidates have tried since 2002.

The Eleventh Circuit declined to consider the case on the merits. The district court has been instructed to apply the Anderson test, which “emphasizes the relevance of context and specific circumstances to each challenge to ballot-access requirements,” and to consider the Equal Protection claim based on the different treatment of third-party candidates running for state-wide office and Congressional candidates.