Laurence H. Tribe '62, professor of Law, is helping presidential candidate John Anderson challenge the constitutionality of state and federal laws which Anderson campaign officials contend hamper independent or third party presidential candidates.
Anderson recently named Tribe, an expert in constitutional law, to be his special counsel for constitutional litigation. Tribe, who will not be paid for his work, said yesterday he expects to work on questions of state ballot eligibility, federal campaign financing, and access to television time and public debates.
"What I'm doing for Anderson is not a partisan effort," said Tribe, who is also doing legal work for the campaign of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass). "This is an effort on principle that has to be made. There are grave constitutional issues about laws that effectively prevent an independent campaign."
"Politically, if the choice is Carter or Reagan, I feel the voters need an alternative," he added.
Today, Tribe and the Anderson campaign are filing suit in Ohio to strike down the March deadline for filing nominating petitions. Anderson did not announce his independent candidacy until April 24, and his own staff filed a nominating petition last Friday with more than the required number of signatures, Michael Rosenbaum, Anderson's press secretary, said yesterday.
"There is no legitimate reason that Ohio has for requiring nominating petitions to be turned in 229 days before the national election," Tribe said, adding that he is committed to taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
In 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Ohio nominating deadline slightly earlier than the deadline this year. The ruling enabled George Wallace, former governor of Alabama, to get on the presidential ballot.
Anderson anticipates other court battles over state ballot eligibility, Rosenbaum said. The campaign has already missed deadlines in four other states, and appears to have collected enough signatures to make the ballot in five states.
Some of the laws are ambiguous, but state election officials interpret them in ways that hamper Anderson's campaign, Tribe said, adding that this may indicate officials' personal feelings towards Anderson or their allegiance to the major parties.
Other rules hindering Anderson include deadlines for withdrawing from a major party race and announcing an independent candidacy, residency restrictions on campaign workers gathering signatures, greater signature requirements for independent candidates than for major party candidates, and requirements that an independent form a new party to campaign.
Anderson will not file suit on all constitutional questions. The campaign will target "Rules we can theoretically comply with, but that are offensive to our principles," Tribe said, explaining that Anderson does not believe in forming a new party but considers his organization "an ad-hoc coalition of Democrats and Republicans."
Anderson's campaign may or may not be judged to be a new party, Tribe said, adding that the campaign is considering challenging the constitutionality of Congress's "ability to draw the line and require an elaborate party structure with a slate of candidates from dogcatcher to congressman."
Campaign financing laws retroactively provide federal funds to new parties if their presidential candidate wins at least 5 per cent of the popular vote in November.