ALLENTOWN, PA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
has appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
a Commonwealth Court decision removing from the ballot Carl Stevenson
, an independent candidate running for a state House seat in the 134th district (parts of Berks and Lehigh counties).
Earlier this month a Commonwealth Court judge disqualified 97 of his
petition signatures because they were obtained by someone who did not reside in the district.
The statute requiring petition circulators to reside in the electoral district was declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2002.
"Requiring petition circulators to be residents of the election district is a serious burden on independent and minor party candidates' ability to gather the signatures necessary to get on the ballot, and there is no good reason for the requirement," said Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, who is representing Stevenson.
In fact, Department of State personnel advised Stevenson
that the district-residency requirement had been declared unconstitutional.
Alburtis Mayor Robert Mader and Michael Gibson of the Emmaus Republican Committee challenged Stevenson's nominating petitions on behalf of the Republican candidate and incumbent in the race, Doug Reichley.
Without the 97 signatures gathered by the individual from outside his
would not have enough signatures to appear on the ballot.
In its ruling against Stevenson
, the Commonwealth Court refused to respect the federal court's injunction in Morrill v. Weaver, writing that "decisions of the federal district courts and courts of appeal ... are not binding on Pennsylvania courts, even when a federal question is involved."
"It's disturbing that the major parties will spend so much money, time, and effort in their efforts to maintain a stranglehold on our political system," said Stevenson, who is also the president of WK3C Wireless, a consulting firm.
In addition to Walczak, Stevenson is represented by ACLU-PA staff attorney Mary Catherine Roper.