Libertarians appealing court decision

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Liber-tarians are appealing a federal court decision that would keep gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Earl off the primary ballot.

Legal counsel for the state party hope to gain a temporary restraining order against a decision by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted that removed Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May contest.

"While we respect Judge Watson's decision to deny our request for a temporary restraining order against Husted's decision, we feel that he may be wrong in this instance," attorney Mark Brown said in a released statement. "We are accordingly making an emergency appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for that temporary restraining order, while our larger case goes on."

Brown also noted that Linnabary is pursuing the issue in the Ohio Supreme Court, and that case could help Earl remain on the ballot.

"We believe we will win both cases," he said.

The appeal comes after a decision from federal district court Judge Michael H. Watson late Wednesday upholding Husted's decision removing Earl from the ballot.

Earl and Linnabary had earlier sued to be allowed to participate in the primary after the Republican-controlled legislature moved law changes affecting how minor candidates qualify for the ballot. They subsequently submitted petitions, and county election boards initially said they had enough signatures to be included in the primary.

Their inclusion was considered a potential spoiler for Gov. John Kasich, providing Tea Party and other disgruntled conservatives with an option in November.

But protests filed by two Columbus-area men and one Cleveland-area man contended the three candidates did not follow state law in collecting signatures. The challengers alleged paid petition circulators did not disclose their employers and improperly relied on the Ohio Democratic Party and backers of a gay marriage amendment to gather signatures for their candidacies.

Legal counsel for the Libertarian Party countered that paid petition circulators were independent contractors and therefore not required to include an employer disclosure on submitted petitions.

Husted ruled signatures on petitions without the required disclosure were invalid, and Earl and Linnabary did not have enough valid names to appear on the May ballot.

In his ruling late Wednesday, Watson sided with Husted on the disclosure issue and Earl's removal from the ballot.

Watson wrote, "... No violation of the First Amendment has occurred. And w

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