On January 13 U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney ruled against Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum in a lawsuit seeking to have their names appear on the 2012 Republican primary ballot in Virginia. The candidates argued that they had been unfairly excluded from the ballot because the state’s ballot access law, which requires candidates to collect 10,000 signatures of registered voters using only Virginia residents as petition circulators, was too onerous.
Gibney, an appointee of President Barack Obama, found that some of the plaintiffs’ arguments had merit; but he turned down their request for a mandatory preliminary injunction, which would have forced ballots to be reprinted to include their names, because they had waited too long to file their lawsuit. The plaintiffs, he bluntly stated,
knew the rules in Virginia many months ago; the limitations on circulators affected them as soon as they began to circulate petitions. The plaintiffs could have challenged the Virginia law at that time. Instead, they waited until after the time to gather petitions had ended and they had lost the political battle to be on the ballot; then, on the eve of the printing of absentee ballots, they decided to challenge Virginia’s laws. In essence, they played the game, lost, and then complained that the rules were unfair.
It is too late in the game, Gibney asserted, for the court to strike down any of the provisions in question and wait to see if the candidates are then able to meet the remaining requirements — “the absentee ballots must go out now.”
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