The state Supreme Court, moving swiftly, will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether Republicans should replace Democrats at the top of the ballot in November. In a lawsuit that it filed just last month, the state Republican Party argued that it should receive the top ballot line after the complicated results of the 2010 gubernatorial election. The high court’s ruling will have a direct effect in November, when much of Connecticut’s political world is up for election: a U.S. Senate seat, all five congressional offices, 151 seats in the state House of Representative and 36 in the state Senate. The matter will be determined by the seven Supreme Court justices, who have been nominated by governors and approved by the legislature through the years. Although Democrat Dannel P. Malloy won the governor’s race in 2010, he did it with a combination of votes from both the Democratic Party and the union-backed Working Families Party. In the tight race, Republican Tom Foley captured more votes on the Republican line than Malloy did on the Democratic line. With that result, Republicans say that their party should get the top line because they received more votes than any other party.
The GOP sued Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who ruled that the Democrats should keep the top line on the 2012 ballot. Republicans had questioned an original decision by Merrill, a longtime Democrat, to place the Democrats on the top line for the 2011 municipal elections. But Merrill says the precise wording of the law means that the party of the candidate with the most votes overall — Malloy and the Democrats, in this case — should go on top.
The case is highly unusual because many lawsuits do not reach the state’s highest court for years. In this case, the lawsuit was filed at Superior Court on Aug. 9, and it is reaching oral arguments on September 12 — lightning speed in a court system that is known for taking years for criminal cases and often 20 years in death-penalty appeals. Some other political cases have moved quickly, including the high court’s decision that then-Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz was not qualified to run as attorney general in 2010 because she did not have enough legal experience.