Tennessee federal judge finds 3rd party requirements unconstitutional

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September 28, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

NASHVILLE, Tennessee: A federal judge found Tennnessee's requirements to qualify third parties was unconstitutional on September 20, 2010[1].

Judge William Haynes, Jr. ruled that the state's standards for qualifying third parties violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the basis of free speech. Tennessee requires minor parties to get signatures from 2.5 percent of residents that are members of the party along with turning in petitions four months before the election. Despite Haynes felt that the 2.5 percent signature threshold was reasonable, he concluded that additional requirements including party membership are too much of a burden on third parties[1].

The judge's ruling is scheduled to go into effect after the November 2, 2010 general election. The Tennessee Secretary of State did not comment on whether they would appeal the ruling to the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals[1]. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys representing the Constitution, Libertarian, and Green Parties[1].

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