A decade after Ralph Nader‘s failed attempt to get on the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia ruled Wednesday that minor parties should get another day in court. The 54-page opinion stated the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties have the standing to challenge the constitutionality of two provisions of state election code regulating ballot access. Third-party candidates are required to submit nomination petitions with signatures, and then to bear administrative and legislative costs if those petitions are successfully called into question.
The appellate court said its ruling is not meant to prejudge the merits of the case or the precedent supporting a state’s interest in preventing voter confusion and ballot clutter and ensuring viable candidates by limiting ballot access.
“It would be a sad irony indeed if the state that prides itself on being the cradle of American liberty had unlawfully restrictive ballot access laws,” the opinion said.
The case will return to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which originally decided the minor parties had no standing to challenge the election code.