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Judge Blocks Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman From Virginia Ballot

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    Judge Blocks Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman From Virginia Ballot

    The Washington Times

    A judge has rejected a last-ditch bid by four Republican presidential candidates to get on Virginia’s GOP primary ballot, leaving the March 6 contest only to front-runner Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

    In his ruling, federal District Court Judge John A. Gibney Jr. delivered a judicial spanking to the four candidates — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. — saying their complaint amounts to sour grapes.

    “They knew the rules in Virginia many months ago,” Judge Gibney said in turning down the request to reopen the process. “They waited until after the time to gather petitions had ended and they had lost the political battle to be on the ballot; then, on the eve of the printing of absentee ballots, they decided to challenge Virginia’s laws. In essence, they played the game, lost, and then complained that the rules were unfair.”

    His decision allows absentee ballots to go out as planned with just Mr. Paul and Mr. Romney as the only two listed candidates.

    The four candidates had argued that Virginia’s requirement that candidates secure 10,000 signatures, and that of those, 400 signatures come from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. The rules also require that those gathering the signatures be residents of Virginia.

    Two of the candidates didn’t file petitions by the deadline, while the other two filed petitions that were ruled not to have met the signature requirement.

    Judge Gibney said that but for the timing, he would have ruled in favor of the challenge to the residency requirement, but would have still upheld the 10,000-signature rule.

    Joseph M. Nixon, counsel for Mr. Perry, argued the case dealt with voting rights, the “cornerstone of democracy.” He said that the residency requirement for ballot-gathers was a violation of free political speech.

    “The purpose of speech,” he said, “is to affect the outcome of how we choose to govern ourselves. The process is meaningless if the list of candidates is unconstitutionally and arbitrarily restricted.”

    E. Duncan Getchell Jr., Virginia solicitor general, though, argued that the defendants failed to demonstrate that they were likely to succeed on the merits of the case, a prerequisite for a temporary injunction that would place them on the ballot.

    The state would also violate the statutes in a consent decree with Justice Department if they added more names to the ballot, he argued.

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