Lindsay v. Bowen

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 05-06-2014
  • Case #: 13-15085
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Chief Judge Kozinski for the Court; Circuit Judges O’Scannlain and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

It is not a violation of constitutional rights for a state to exclude a person from the ballot who is constitutionally ineligible to be president, even if their stated goal is not to actually become president but only to run.

Peta Lindsay appealed from the district court’s dismissal of her suit, alleging a violation of her constitutional rights because she was denied the ability to run for president in the 2012 election for the Peace and Freedom Party. At this time Lindsay was twenty-seven years old and therefore not constitutionally eligible to be president. While she was not eligible to be president, Lindsay claims that she was eligible to run and alleged a violation of her rights under the First Amendment, Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Twentieth Amendment. In regards to the First Amendment claim, the Ninth Circuit determined that the burden of Lindsay’s exclusion from the ballot was justified by the interest in the integrity of the election process and avoiding voter confusion. In regards to the Equal Protection Claim, Lindsay argued that because the Peace and Freedom Party had given her support, she was similarly situated to other candidates. The panel rejected this as an argument, to the extent that it was to show why the state couldn't draw distinctions between candidates who are ineligible to become president from those who where not. Finally, in regards to the Twentieth Amendment claim, because it is unclear that the Twentieth Amendment gives a private right of action, and nothing in its text suggests that it precludes state authorities from excluding a candidate from the ballot who is factually ineligible to be president, the panel rejected the claim that the state’s action was a Twentieth Amendment violation. AFFIRMED.

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