Republican allies in Michigan courts subvert justice to block Libertarian competition

For Immediate Release Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gov. Gary Johnson, 2012 Libertarian Party candidate for president, and the voters of Michigan were robbed last year, and the Republican Party is the thief.

Johnson was barred from appearing on the ballot during November’s election at the behest of the GOP establishment and Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who used their insider political power to block competition at the polls. The district court ruling blocking Johnson’s ballot appearance was a gross violation of the rule of law, and contrary to long-established precedent stretching back for 100 years during which time many candidates appeared on presidential ballots despite being in the same circumstances as Johnson during his campaign.

These public officials, along with the Republican Party, subverted the rule of law by keeping 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson off the Michigan ballot in the November election — in a callous display of indifference to voter rights.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson
Ruth Johnson ,
Michigan Secretary of State
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman
Paul Borman
Eastern District of Michigan
Judge John Rogers, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
John Rogers
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Judge Damon Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Damon Keith
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Judge Boyce Martin, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Boyce Martin
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

The Republican Party has selectively ignored such candidates when it doesn’t perceive a threat, but Johnson’s Libertarian Party campaign had the GOP establishment running scared. Today, judges John Rogers, Damon Keith, and Boyce Martin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the district court decision that barred Johnson from the ballot, thereby striking a blow against ballot access and real voter choice.

This disgraceful action by the Republican Party is part of a nationwide trend by Big Government Republicans and Democrats, who are determined to maintain their monopoly on the electoral process by restraining their competition. The Republican Party also attempted to throw Johnson off the ballot in Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — all to prevent voters from having the opportunity to vote for smaller government.

The Republican Party fights tooth and nail to keep real alternatives off the ballot, so they’re assured that they can continue business as usual: Spending our tax dollars hand over fist, borrowing still more that future generations must pay, passing a dizzying array of new rules and regulations, waging interventionist wars in foreign countries and on the personal liberties of American citizens, expanding the size and scope of government at every turn.

Republicans have good reason to fear competition from the Libertarian Party, which offers a real choice to dramatically limit government.

Johnson had originally sought to run for president as a Republican, but withdrew before the Michigan primary and instead sought the Libertarian Party’s nomination, which he won. The Republican Party, seeing a chance to protect their Big Government presidential candidate from competition by a truly small-government opponent, sought to have Johnson removed from the ballot under Michigan’s “sore loser” statute, which bars a candidate who loses one party’s primary from appearing as another party’s candidate on election day.

However, it’s clear from precedent that this statute did not apply to the Johnson campaign. The “sore loser” statute has never before been applied to a presidential candidate. For 100 years, “sore loser” laws did not apply to presidential primaries, including during the presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt. Only in 2012, against Johnson, did a court rule that “sore loser” laws apply to presidential primaries.

The district court judge, Paul Borman, who originally ruled Johnson would not appear on the November ballot cited the case of 1980 presidential candidate John Anderson, who first ran as a Republican and later as an Independent and set precedent that the “sore loser” statute did not apply in the presidential race. Borman asserted, however, that case did not establish precedent because Anderson had not actually appeared on the Republican primary ballot. As Richard Winger, of Ballot Access News, pointed out, this assertion is false.

“Anderson’s name did appear on the Republican presidential primary ballot in 1980 and his votes were counted,” Winger wrote. “John Anderson appeared on the primary ballot and polled 48,947 votes, 8% of the total. And he also appeared on the November ballot that year in Michigan as a minor party nominee.” Winger also notes that a valid method for independent candidates to appear on the Michigan presidential ballot had been established by the 1976 campaign of Eugene McCarthy and the 1980 campaign of Gus Hall.

“We have dealt with many challenges in this campaign from the major parties, who clearly don’t want voters to have a viable third option in this election, but this attack on voting rights and democracy is over the top,” the Johnson campaign wrote in an August press release, charging that the Republican Party was making a concerted effort to “deny citizens the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

This decision must not stand. The Republican Party may believe that it has to hold voters captive in order to maintain a stranglehold on the democratic process, but no matter how much Republicans try to eliminate ballot competition, voters still have a choice. The Libertarian Party will continue to fight this monopolistic behavior every step of the way, arming voters with knowledge about how freedom brings prosperity and offering them candidates who will take big, bold steps to shrink Big Government and advance liberty.