For Immediate Release
January 27, 2000
Amanda Cooper, 212 998–6736
Presidential Campaign 2000 Media Advisory: McCain Legal Team to Present Oral Arguments in New York Ballot Access Case
GOP Presidential Candidate, Molinari and New York Voters Continue Their Struggle for a Full and Fair Primary
What: This will be the first court appearance for the case, Molinari v. Powers, asserting that the New York Republican primary ballot access rules are unconstitutional.
Who: Burt Neuborne, Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Richard Emery of Emery Cuti Brinkerhoff & Abady will be the lead lawyers presenting oral argument on McCain’s behalf.
Where: Judge Edward Korman’s courtroom
225 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
When: Friday, January 28, 2:30 p.m.
At issue: The legal team is asking the court to order the Republican Party and the various elections boards to place John McCain on the ballot in every district in New York State. New York’s ballot access rules – the strictest in the nation – are too burdensome and violate the First Amendment rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice.
Background: Despite herculean efforts by McCain 2000 staff and volunteers, it appears that Senator McCain will not be on the ballot in as many as 14 of the 31 congressional districts of New York State unless the court intervenes. Though Senator McCain is by all accounts the most viable challenger to front runner and party favorite George W. Bush, he could not overcome rules that were designed to ensure that only the State Republican Party favorite (Bush) or a multi-millionaire (like Steve Forbes) could get on the ballot statewide. The rules required McCain to field 31 separate volunteer teams across the state to gather over 20,000 signatures in 37 days during a blustery holiday season.
Steve Forbes was able to collect enough signatures only after spending $750,000 of his personal fortune to hire professional petition circulators (at a rate of about $15 per signature). And even the thousands of signatures gathered by these candidates may not stand up to the challenges of party officials as they scrutinize them and attempt to disqualify many of them. Many more thousands of dollars in legal fees will be amassed as the candidates try to defend their petitions. These rules may well disqualify McCain and Forbes in many congressional districts, and are so daunting that the other three GOP contenders didn’t even attempt to get on the New York State ballot. As a result, New York State voters are being denied the real choices voters in other states will have.
Determined to guarantee New Yorkers more choice in the GOP presidential primary, Republican voters and Senator McCain’s presidential campaign continue to fight these draconian ballot access rules through the federal lawsuit Molinari v. Powers. They are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Emery Cuti Brinckerhoff & Abady, the same legal team that successfully gained access to the ballot for Steve Forbes in 1996.
Burt Neuborne: Brennan Center Legal Director and John Norton Pomeroy Professor at NYU School of Law. Author or co-author of four books, including The Rights of Candidates and Voters and two volumes of Political and Civil Rights in the United States.
E. Joshua Rosenkranz: President of the Brennan Center. Author of Voter Choice ‘96: A 50-State Report Card on the Presidential Elections; co-author of forthcoming book on ballot access: What Choice Do We Have? and member of legal team .
Nancy Northup: Director of the Center’s Democracy Program and an adjunct professor at NYU School of Law. Trial counsel in the Center’s defense of federal challenges to the constitutionality of campaign finance reforms passed by voters in Arkansas and California and member of legal team.
Richard Emery: Partner, Emery Cuti Brinckerhoff & Abady (212) 763–5000