James Madison Center

Tea Party Candidate Much Closer to Being Able to Circulate Own Petitions

Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Today, a federal appellate court in Richmond, Virginia, gave new life to a candidate’s efforts to vindicate his constitutional rights. In August 2010, a lower court ruled that Herb Lux, who sought to run for Congress in the 2010 general election, did not have a constitutional right to personally collect signatures in furtherance of his own candidacy. Today, an appeals court held that the lower court must reconsider that decision.

Virginia law requires congressional candidates to collect 1,000 signatures before they can appear on the ballot. Even though Lux collected over 1,200 signatures, he was refused a place on the ballot because he witnessed most of the signatures himself. Under Virginia law, candidates may witness their own signatures, and a candidate may run for Congress without residing in a given congressional district. But, only congressional district residents can legally gather signatures and Lux did not reside in the congressional district where he was running.

Lux brought suit challenging, on constitutional grounds, the law that forbade him from gathering signatures in furtherance of his own candidacy. He lost in the court below last August, but now the appellate court has ruled that the lower court must reconsider its decision.

“There is simply no reason for prohibiting Mr. Lux from circulating his own petitions,” said James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for Lux. “Not only does it hurt Mr. Lux; it also hurts the voters who signed his petition. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lux could not get relief in time for him to appear on the ballot, but hopefully, the lower court will now do justice and strike down this law so that future candidates, including Mr. Lux, will not be barred from circulating their own petitions.”

The case, called Lux v. Judd, now returns to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, before Judge Henry Hudson. The decision handed down today from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, is available on the website of the James Madison Center for Free Speech, at www.jamesmadisoncenter.org, under the case Lux v. Judd.

James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society, and was recently recognized as the Republican Lawyer of the Year by the National Republican Lawyers Association.

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