Third-party state Representative candidate Carl Stevenson’s name was struck from the ballot when his nominating papers were challenged in Commonwealth Court, a ruling that he is appealing with help from the ACLU on grounds that it is unconstitutional. Barbara Adams, appointed to fill the vacant Secretary of the Commonwealth seat, has filed a brief with the Supreme Court requesting instruction on legally enforcing the election code as it stands because the ruling against Stevenson conflicts with a federal court ruling that defines its current requirements.
According to the brief, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania ruled in 2002 that the requirement for nominating paper circulators to reside within the electorate district of the candidate violates the first and fourteenth Amendments and is unconstitutional; this is very basis of Commonwealth Court Judge James Kelley’s order to strike Stevenson’s name from the ballot. The ruling of the federal case, Morrill v. Weaver, had ordered the court to permanently prohibit the enforcement of the residency requirement, so the nominating papers were changed to require “qualified elector” circulators. However, Judge Kelley said that federal court rulings are not binding to Commonwealth Court, then voided all of Stevenson’s signatures that were obtained by an out-of-district circulator and removed his name from the ballot.
The ruling against Stevenson clearly conflicts with the standing election code and further inhibits third-party campaigns.
Read the “Amicus Curiae Brief of the Secretary of the Commonwealth,” obtained and posted by GrassRootsPA (9/7/10).