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CCD Wins 6th Circuit Appeal in Case Striking Down Michigan Requirements for Independent Candidates

In a major victory for independent candidates and their supporters in Michigan, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed the District Court's decision in Graveline v. Benson, which struck down Michigan's ballot access requirements for independent candidates for statewide office.


The District Court held that Michigan's 30,000-signature requirement, as applied in combination with a signature-distribution requirement and June deadline, was unconstitutional. It enjoined enforcement of the 30,000-signature requirement and established a 12,000-signature requirement as an interim measure that will expire when the Legislature enacts a permanent requirement.


The 6th Circuit affirmed the District Court decision in every respect:


[W]e hold that the challenged provisions, applied in combination, impose a severe burden on the constitutional rights of independent candidates and their potential voter-supporters. Because the provisions are not narrowly drawn to advance compelling state interests, Michigan’s statutory scheme for qualifying independent candidates to be placed on the ballot violates the Constitution. Due to the impermissible infringement on Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, we also conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in crafting its remedy. Thus, we AFFIRM the rulings of the district court.


CCD filed the case in 2018 on behalf of Christopher Graveline, an independent candidate for Michigan Attorney General, and several supporters who wanted to vote for him. The District Court initially granted Graveline a preliminary injunction that placed him on Michigan's 2018 general election ballot and entered its permanent injunction on December 22, 2019.


The 6th Circuit's full opinion is available here:

Graveline v
. Benson_6th Circuit Opinion_
Download BENSON_6TH CIRCUIT OPINION_ • 508KB

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1 Comment


michaelhallatty
michaelhallatty
Apr 27, 2021

Good to see that the Court recognized that Michigan's restrictive ballot access regulations are a violation of voters' rights, not just candidates rights. Candidate's rights ride piggyback on the fundamental right of citizens to choose their representatives. They are tangent to voters' rights to choose freely.

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