On Feb. 13, 2013, an influential federal appeals court will hold a hearing on whether a core part of the Top Two Primary law is unconstitutional.
Update (Feb. 1, 2013): The three judges who will hear the case: Marsha Berzon, Paul Watford, and James Carr (sitting by designation).
In Chamness v. Bowen, a number of candidates and voters have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) to decide whether the Top Two Primary’s implementing law is unconstitutional. In short, does the State have the power to force candidates to lie on the ballot, or to disenfranchise people who vote for write-in candidates?
The Ninth Circuit appeals court will devote a full 40 minutes of oral argument for Chamness — a large amount of time it reserves for only a small fraction of cases.
The Top Two Primary’s implementing law (Senate Bill 6) has violated the rights of Californians in two troubling ways. First, it violated the rights of minor-party candidates, by forcing them to falsely state on the ballot that they have “No Party Preference”. For example, Michael Chamness, who ran for U.S. Congress as a Coffee Party candidate, was forced to lie to voters that he had “No Party Preference”.
Second, Senate Bill 6 disenfranchised all voters who cast write-in votes in the general election. Earlier, Rich Wilson and Julius Galacki cast write-in votes that were not counted.
The hearing will be held at 9 am, Feb. 13, 2013, in Courtroom 3 of the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse, 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, California.
The hearing is open to all members of the public. Parking is available in the lot opposite the courthouse.
Click here for more background on Chamness v. Bowen.
Update (Feb. 19, 2013): Click here to hear the audio transcript from the Feb. 13, 2013 hearing; and click here to read Ballot Access News’ account of the hearing.