Secretary Raffensperger Successfully Defends Georgia Law in Court

January 7th, 2022

(Atlanta) – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger successfully upheld Georgia law in court this week, beating back a legal effort to undermine Georgia’s requirements for third-party candidate petitioners. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in favor of Secretary Raffensperger, reversed a lower court ruling, and vacated an injunction that would have prevented enforcing Georgia law as written.

“I will continue to fight back against frivolous lawsuits that seek to undermine rule of law in Georgia, whether from Stacey Abrams or the Biden Administration,” said Raffensperger. “This ruling is just the latest in a series of successes in court defending Georgia’s laws from efforts to overturn them. Individuals who want to change Georgia’s laws need to win at the ballot box not try to push their failed policies through in the courts.”

On Wednesday, January 5th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in Cowen v. Secretary of State of Georgia that a lower court decision replacing Georgia’s third party petitioner signatures requirement with a lower threshold was incorrectly decided.

The case had already come before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals but had been remanded back to the U.S. District Court of for the Northern District of Georgia for reconsideration. Though the Eleventh Circuit again took issue with the Northern District court’s ruling, the Appeals Court decided to reverse the lower court’s ruling favor of the plaintiffs and vacate the injunction they had issued against enforcement of the third party petition requirements under Georgia law.

The Appeals Court ruled that the Georgia law requirement for third party candidates to secure signatures of 5% of eligible voters in non-statewide contests is not too burdensome and therefore not a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Notably, the Court pointed out that “Over the past 50 years, courts have repeatedly rejected constitutional challenges to these ballot-access laws: first the Supreme Court, then our predecessor circuit, and then this Circuit, twice.” According to the Court, the plaintiffs failed demonstrate that their claim was in any substantial way different than the claims previously brought against Georgia’s third-party petitioning requirements in the other failed cases.