The Libertarian Party is the largest and fastest growing alternative political party in the United States. It has already attracted hundreds of thousands of liberty-minded citizens concerned with curbing out-of-control, bureaucratic and oppressive governments – federal, state and local.
The Libertarian Party believes that individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility form the basis of a benevolent community, country and world. We wholeheartedly support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as they were originally intended: as foundations of a free, just and humane society.
The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
– P.J. O’Rourke
Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive rules in the country for smaller political parties.
Since 2010, the Libertarians, the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee have been in near-constant litigation with the state. They have won several victories, and the legislature has changed the law slightly. But the parties say the hurdles for them to get their names on the ballot are still unreasonably high.
A 2010 federal court ruling in one of the cases stated that Tennessee was one of only two states where no third parties had qualified for the ballot over the previous decade.
Individual candidates can appear on Tennessee’s ballot simply by submitting a petition with 25 signatures, but they will appear as independents unless their parties have qualified to appear on the ballot as well. For a party to appear on the ballot, it must collect more than 40,000 signatures. If the party wants to stay on the ballot, one of its candidates must garner more than 80,000 votes.
A recent opinion from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in one of the cases says the ease with which an independent candidate can get on Tennessee’s ballot undermines the state’s argument that too many parties could result in voter confusion. Read The Full Story
Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive ballot access rules in the country.
In a lawsuit filed last month, the party claims Tennessee laws violate its members’ constitutional rights to free speech, association and equal protection.
A federal judge has twice ruled in favor of Tennessee’s Green and Constitution parties on similar claims.
The state has appealed those rulings, but the two parties will appear on the ballot this year. Read The Full Story
Third parties that have a national infrastructure such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party have waged legal battles from California to North Carolina to improve their ability to get on the ballot. In California, a more lax state regarding ballot access laws, Terry Baum went through several legal hurdles in her race against U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi as the Green Party candidate.
The common method is to attain a certain percentage from the previous gubernatorial election for a third party to stay on the ballot or a specific number of signatures to qualify. The higher the threshold, the more difficult it will be to officially receive votes on Election Day. Louisiana is one of three states, along with Florida and Oklahoma, which has either a filing fee or petition for third parties. Tennessee is the 3rd most restrictive state. Read The Full Story
Sixth Circuit Sends Tennessee Ballot Access and Ballot Order Case Back to U.S. District Court for More Fact-Finding
On August 22, the Sixth Circuit issued a 24-page opinion in Green Party of Tennessee v Hargett, 13-5975. It says that the U.S. District Court should re-adjudicate the case, and should take testimony on how burdensome it is for a group to submit a petition of 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote (currently 40,042 signatures) with a deadline in early August.
Footnote four on page sixteen says the new evidence can be from other states. It should be fairly easy for the plaintiffs, the Green Party and the Constitution Party, to use experience from other states to demonstrate that getting as many as 40,042 valid signatures is burdensome. Neither party has ever been able to petition successfully for party status in any medium-size or small state that requires that many signatures. The only states in which either party has ever been able to overcome a signature hurdle as high as 40,000 signatures are California and Texas, which happen to be the most populous and second-most populous states in the nation.
The decision does hint that the state’s rationale for requiring as many as 40,000 signatures seems unconvincing. Page 16 says, “It is a puzzling proposition that voters should be less confused by a ballot listing numerous candidates without (“without” is in italics) a party designation than by a similar ballot including party designations; the latter, at least, contains information helpful to distinguishing among lesser-known candidates.” Read The Full Story
“I stand for choice, not a dictatorship,” the self-proclaimed conservative said.
“I’ve always lived on a budget,” he said. “I can’t just go out and print more money when I run short.”
As for not being backed by any big party ticket, James said that just wasn’t him.
“I listen, I don’t just immediately hate,” he said. “I listen to the far left, I listen to the far right, do a little independent research, then I do this thing that’s usually missing in this world, which is critical thinking.”
“I just bounce heads with them (Republicans and Democrats) so much,” James said. “I’m not part of that good old boy network, that’s just not me.”
Although James acknowledges he’s got a big job ahead of him, he says it is his children to whom he feels responsible in his run for senate.
“I’ve got a little boy and a little girl and I’ve got to show them that you’ve at least got to try,” he said. “Sometimes the answer is no, but you’ve got to try.”
“We encourage people to come out and walk with us and talk with us,” said Doug Irvin, James’ campaign manager.
One of the major issues James said he’s heard on his journey so far is that of jobs.
“People are hungry for work,” he said. He added people didn’t want to have to work three or four part-time jobs to be able to get by, but to be able to work a single job that allowed time for their families.
Some of the issues James hopes to address if he wins the senate seat include the national debt, taxes and protecting the sovereignty of the states.
“We need to start worrying about fiscal responsibility,” he said. “We need to get out of this hole of debt.”
James’ main adversary in his race for the Senate seat is Republican incumbent Lamar Alexander, who has held the seat since 2002.
In 1978 Alexander conducted a similar walking campaign by walking from Mountain City to Memphis during a run for governor. Read The Full Story
On August 16, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called National Guard troops into Ferguson to “ensure the safety and welfare of the citizens.” This call came amid international debate over the militarized police response to protests that were sparked by the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Commentators have questioned why, on top of heavily armed riot teams, the governor needs the National Guard?
Rarely deployed to deal with civilian unrest, in most instances National Guard troops lay sandbags and hand out bottles of water. But as troops turned up in Ferguson on Monday clad in military fatigues and equipped with rifles, they aroused memories of America’s past. Read The Full Story
A young girl, who claims she was standing up for her religious beliefs in the classroom, was suspended after breaking a class rule of saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed.
When Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner said bless you to her classmate, she says her teacher told her that was for church.
“She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right,” said Turner. Read The Full Story
The approach is all too familiar, and Joshua James hopes the result will be the same.
James, 33, is walking across the state campaigning for the seat of U.S. senator, which is held by Lamar Alexander.
In 1978, Alexander gained attention when he walked the state while running for governor of Tennessee wearing a red and black flannel shirt.
“He’s been in power my entire life, and I have not been represented,” James said. “I’m the next generation. … I’ve been campaigning since January, hitting up some of the smaller areas waiting to see who I would face after the primary.”
James, a conservative independent from Murfreesboro, is one of several independent candidates opposing Alexander, a Republican who is looking for a third term. Gordon Ball, of Knoxville, won the Democratic primary. The general election is Nov. 4. Read The Full Story