On May 25, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon ruled that Montana’s March petition deadline for non-presidential independent candidates is unconstitutionally early. The case is Kelly v McCulloch, cv-08-25. Montana’s petition deadline for non-presidential independent candidates had been in June between 1973 and 2007, but in 2007 the legislature moved it to March. Here is the 22-page opinion.
Steve Kelly, who desired to be an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2008, had then sued to overturn the new early deadline. Judge Haddon had initially ruled that Kelly lacks standing, because he had not attempted to petition in 2008. But the 9th circuit had reversed the standing decision, and had sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for a ruling on the merits. That decision has now been issued. The Montana legislature won’t be in session until 2013, so presumably the Secretary of State will administratively set a new deadline to be in effect for the 2012 election. In this lawsuit, Kelly was represented by the ACLU.