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Nader 2000 campaign manager publishes article on discriminatory ballot access laws

Theresa Amato, who served as campaign manager for Ralph Nader’s 2000 Green and 2004 independent runs for president, has an opinion piece in the Harvard Law Record entitled “The Two Party Ballot Suppresses Third Party Change”. She notes that although Nader wrote a piece on discriminatory ballot access laws for the same publication in 1958, the situation has not improved in the 51 years since then. Amato is the author of the recent book “Grand Illusion: the Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny”.

Though brief, the article effectively demonstrates how unfair laws and partisan judges have propped up the two-party system for decades. For example, Amato reveals how as recently as 1997, Justice Rehnquist invented a rationale for discrimination against third parties basically out of thin air:

Justice Rehnquist, for example, writing for a 6-3 divided Court in Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, 520 U.S. 351 (1997), spells out the Court’s bias for the “two-party system,” even though the word “party” is nowhere to be found in the Constitution.  He wrote that “The Constitution permits the Minnesota Legislature to decide that political stability is best served through a healthy two-party system. And while an interest in securing the perceived benefits of a stable two-party system will not justify unreasonably exclusionary restrictions, States need not remove all the many hurdles third parties face in the American political arena today.”  520 U.S. 351, 366-67.

Any student of American history should understand that the suppression of third parties carries with it the suppression of new ideas that third parties have historically brought into the mainstream, such as abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the right to form unions, child labor laws, the minimum wage, and more. Amato’s article is well worth a read.

Dave Schwab

3 Comments

  1. What I keep asking myself is why Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Ron Paul, Jackie Salit and a few others–Sarah Palin, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Bloomberg, don’t come together NOW to demand Electoral Reform–eight changes, four for 2010 and four for 2012. This is a no-brainer, so why is it so hard for them all to put their egos on the shelf and do the ONE THING that everyone can agree on?

  2. Actually, I’d be glad to see Palin there, for two reasons. First, she is one of the biggest media magnets there is these days. Second, it would show that people can agree on nothing else but still agree that our electoral system is broken and needs to be fixed. That was the potential power of last year’s Ron Paul-convened press conference on electoral reform with all the non-establishment party candidates, until Bob Barr blew it by refusing to appear onstage with Cynthia McKinney.

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