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Maine: independent candidate asks Justice Souter for a chance to get on the ballot

A ScotusBlog post begins: Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter has asked the state of Maine and the state Democratic Party chairman to supply their views on the right of an independent candidate for U.S. Senate to have his nominating petition signatures accepted so that he can get on the November election ballot. In an order issued Friday (found here), Souter — in his role as Circuit Justice for the area that includes Maine — sought responses to First Amendment issues raised by the non-party candidate, Herbert J. Hoffman, and told all of the lawyers involved to discuss what kind of legal remedy, if any, should be available to Hoffman. Those filings are due Tuesday.

Souter has the authority to act alone, but also may choose to share the issue with his colleagues.

In an application (08A138) filed Thursday seeking an order to block a Maine Supreme Court ruling of July 28, Hoffman contended that he has submitted 4,038 valid signatures on nominating petitions — over the 4,000 minimum required by state law. But, because of the state court decision, throwing out three separate petitions that each included only a single invalid signature, he would wind up with a total of only 3, 929, and thus would be barred from the ballot.

The state ruling, Hoffman’s application argued, violates the First Amendment right of political expression of himself and voters who support him, the right to gather politically to support a candidate, and the actual right to vote. -- Souter probes Maine ballot access issue

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