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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hall

Can States Bar Citizens From Serving in Public Office Based on Partisan Affiliation?

Today the Supreme Court is in conference to decide whether to accept the petition for certiorari filed in Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Crites, No. 20-3585, which presents the question whether states may bar citizens from serving in public office based on their partisan affiliation.

You might think the answer to that question is "No". (We do too.) But that is exactly what Ohio does with respect to service as a member of the Ohio Elections Commission ("OEC").

That means members of any political party other than the Republicans and Democrats are statutorily prohibited from serving on the OEC. We agree with the Libertarian Party of Ohio that such a prohibition violates the First Amendment. That's why we filed an amicus brief in support of the petitioners in this case. The amici include the Libertarian National Committee, the Green Party of the United States, the Constitution Party and the Coalition for Free and Open Elections.

See the amicus brief here. And see the petition for certiorari here.

The Supreme Court hasn't accepted a petition for certiorari filed by a minor party in 30 years, when it did so in Norman v. Reed, 502 U.S. 279 (1991). Will Ohio's unconstitutional statutory scheme be the one that gets the Court's attention? We'll find out soon.

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