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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hall

CCD Wins 7th Circuit Appeal for IL Independent Candidates

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has granted CCD's appeal on behalf of David Gill, an independent candidate for U.S. House in Illinois who challenged the constitutionality of Illinois' ballot access requirements for such candidates.

In a decision entered on June 18, 2020, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's decision upholding Illinois' requirements and remanded the case to the District Court for a decision on the merits. The Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court erred by failing to conduct its own analysis and relying instead on the Court of Appeals' decision in Tripp v. Scholz, which upheld the challenged requirements. Even if the requirements had been previously upheld, the Court of Appeals concluded, "[t]he district court erred by automatically concluding that the holding in Tripp controls this case instead of applying the fact-intensive analysis required by the Anderson-Burdick balancing test.

This decision is especially important because the Court of Appeals acknowledged that Tripp relied on a critical factual error that undermines its rationale. It therefore acknowledged that "Tripp's applicability to this case is limited" (Opinion at 11 & n.7). As a result, on remand, Gill will be free to attack the constitutionality of Illinois' requirements without the burden of distinguishing the Court of Appeals' decision upholding them in Tripp.

Illinois' requirements for independent candidates for U.S. House are among the most burdensome in the nation. They include a 5 percent signature requirement, 90-day petitioning period and notarization requirement. No independent candidate for U.S. House has been able to comply with them, when the candidate's petitions were challenged, since 1974.

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