A “Groundbreaking” Case for Election Rights
When Ralph Nader “Crashed the Party” and ran as an independent presidential candidate in 2004, he called on Bernhoft Law to gain a lightning-quick decision from the Wisconsin State Supreme Court that allowed him to remain on the state’s ballot against the wishes of the Democratic party.
The case revolved around a Wisconsin law that required an independent candidate to name eight people to the Electoral College in case of victory. Nader’s elector for the state’s seventh district actually lived in the eighth district – a violation of the rules.
After a lower court judge knocked Nader off the ballot, attorney Robert Bernhoft filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court. A mere four hours after Bernhoft personally argued the case, the state Supreme Court reinstated Nader, declaring the failure to name an elector from the seventh district minor. The swift decision allowed Nader to meet the deadline to be ballot-listed as a candidate for President of the United States.
This was one of numerous efforts to keep Nader off ballots during the contentious campaign. Bernhoft Law continued the fight for four more years when, in July 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District struck down an Arizona law requiring independent candidates to register earlier than those affiliated with political parties.
Bernhoft Law successfully argued that the Arizona law violated Nader’s First Amendment rights of free speech. Oliver Hall, founder of the Washington, D.C. group Center for Competitive Democracy, called the decision “groundbreaking.”