BREAKING NEWS: Federal Court rules in favor of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas

In a decision issued late on Friday, U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker ruled that several sections of Arkansas election law governing “new political parties” were unconstitutional. The LPAR raised the issues in a lawsuit against the state in 2019 (Libertarian Party of Arkansas et. al, v. Thurston).

The judge’s 83-page ruling affirms the Libertarian Party position, finding that “the Court concludes that, because of the combined effect of the early petition deadline, the 90–day petitioning period, the three percent petition requirement, the requirement that new party candidates declare before the major party candidates are selected, and that new parties select their candidates at a party convention and not at a primary or runoff election, the Court grants plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment…”

LPAR Chair Michael Pakko commented “This is about the best outcome we could have hoped for.  Judge Baker laid out all of the arguments and found in our favor on every substantive issue in the case. If we do need to petition again in the future, this ruling guarantees that we won’t be burdened by these objectionable deadlines and restrictions. They have been declared unconstitutional.”

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas is on the ballot in 2022, having successfully petitioned under the terms of Judge Baker’s preliminary injunction issued in 2019.  In order to ​retain ballot access​ as a political party through 2024, Arkansas election law requires that ​the party’s candidate for governor receive at least 3% of the vote in November. ​Otherwise, the Party will need to petition to become a “new political party” once again.  ​The LPAR is also running candidates for federal, state and local offices​ on the November 2022 ballot.​

The LPAR anticipates working with the next legislature to help craft a more fair and equitable process for political parties to gain access to the ballot in Arkansas. If you’d like to see Libertarians actively at the table, vote for our candidates for the Arkansas House and Senate!

Judge Baker’s ruling can be downloaded HERE.

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