Friday, August 6, 2010

I am not dictating a legal theory.

Actually, I thought there were two interesting things about the story. Make that two additional interesting things about the story. As a former resident of Milwaukee, I was struck by the fact that, unlike the major parties, "independents are allowed a five-word statement of purpose on the ballot to explain to voters what their candidacy is about." I lived in Milwaukee for 16 years after I became legal voting age and I cannot remember ever seeing a statement of purpose from a candidate on a ballot. So, I assume the statute or rule allowing the statement is relatively new or I have poor powers of observation. If the former, I wonder how the rule got passed. One would think that support of at least some major party members was needed and that they would want a statement of purpose by their names as well.

The other thing I thought was interesting was that, according to the article, the decision to not allow Ms. Griffin to use her preferred statement of purpose was made by a single staff member of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Ms. Griffin appealed that decision to the actual board. The board voted 3-2 in favor of Ms. Griffin. However, by state law, the board can only act, in this case overturn its staff member's decision, if 4 of the members agree. Initially, I thought why make a board that needs a super majority to act? But as the second link makes clear, the board has 6 members so 4 is a majority if all vote. In Ms. Griffin's case, the question becomes why give a board member who doesn't show up a veto power over the board? Shouldn't it be a majority of voting board members? Isn't this especially true when all the board is doing is supervising its staff?

In any event, I hope we haven't heard the last of this case. Ms. Griffin has an interesting speech issue. As one of the board members noted, her position statement, while offensive, is not obscene or pornographic. One also wonders if the rule or statute allowing the position statement for independent candidates but not major party ones could stand a constitutional challenge. It certainly discriminates based on the identify of the speaker. Normally, First Amendment jurisprudence doesn't allow that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.