Montana Sec. Of State Appeals Green Party Removal To U.S. Supreme Court
Montana’s secretary of state says he’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court order removing the Montana Green Party from the November election ballot.
Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton issued a news release on Aug. 20 saying the nation’s high court must intervene to “break the stranglehold the Montana Democratic Party has on Montana’s legal system."
The appeal comes a day after the Montana Supreme Court upheld an early August state district court order keeping the Green Party off the ballot.
Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge James Reynolds ruled Stapleton should have accepted requests to withdraw more than 560 signatures from a petition to qualify the Green Party for the November ballot. Reynolds said the party wouldn’t have made it onto the ballot without those signatures.
Signers wanted their names off the petition after learning the Montana Republican Party funded signature collection efforts and violated election laws by not reporting the spending in time. The actual state Green Party said it wasn’t involved with the petition and isn’t fielding any candidates this election cycle.
Some politicos believe Green Party candidates draw votes from Democrats on the ballot. Stapleton acknowledges that in his news release.
“Judge Reynolds’ tortured logic of insisting that I retroactively decertify election milestones in order to eliminate political competition for the Democrats is an assault on the intelligence of all Americans,” Stapleton writes.
Stapleton’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment and didn’t furnish a copy of the appeal.
Aug. 20 also marks the deadline for Stapleton to certify the November ballot.
On the same day, Stapleton filed an emergency motion for the state Supreme Court to halt its Aug. 19 order pending the U.S. Supreme Court request with the intention to include the Green Party on the ballot.
In the motion, Stapleton wrote Green Party candidates can be marked over or covered up on the ballot if his appeal fails.
The state Supreme Court denied his request, saying Stapleton offers no legal authority for the motion.
The Montana Democratic Party filed the initial lawsuit against Stapleton’s refusal to disqualify the signatures.
“If Secretary Stapleton wants to expose his embarrassingly partisan, illegal behavior to judgement from the highest court in the land, he has every right to do so. And Montana Democrats will continue to defend the integrity of our elections,” Executive Director Sandi Luckey says.
The Montana GOP didn’t return YPR News' request for comment on Stapleton’s appeal.