ST. LOUIS (CN) – The Constitution Party, which says the United States was founded “on the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” does not have jurisdiction to challenge voter laws that kept its candidates off the 2010 ballot in South Dakota, the 8th Circuit ruled.
Under South Dakota law, political party candidates for governor must collect at least 250 signatures from registered voters. Another state law says South Dakota residents have to circulate these petitions.
The Constitution Party and three individuals filed suit against South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson, claiming the aforementioned laws violate the Commerce Clause, as well as their rights to vote, to equal protection, to free speech, and to free association.
A federal judge rejected the party’s call for an injunction and granted the state summary judgment. The court held, however, that one of the plaintiffs, Mark Pickens, had standing to challenge the residency requirement for circulating candidates’ petition among voters.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel disagreed and vacated that portion of the lower court’s judgment for lack of standing.
“When the district court determined that Mr. Pickens had standing to bring a claim, the court asserted that he was a resident of Arizona, that he wished to circulate petitions in South Dakota ‘presumably for the Constitution Party,’ and that he was prevented from doing so by the residency requirement,” Judge Arnold wrote for the court.
“The court made these findings, however, without any affidavits or other evidence in the record to support them,” he added. “The court evidently took these facts from the complaint or from the parties’ subsequent submissions; but neither of these sources is sufficient to withstand a standing challenge on summary judgment, and thus the district court erred when it found that it had jurisdiction to reach the merits of Mr. Pickens’s claim.”
On its website, the Constitution Party says its goal “is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.”