Winning our Challenge to Marion County's Judicial Election System

On Sept. 9, 2015, the ACLU pf Indiana won a challenge to Marion County's judicial election system in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The lawsuit had been brought in Nov., 2012 by Common Cause Indiana, and challenged the constitutionality of Indiana Code § 33-33-49-13, which resulted in each major party nominating candidates for only one half of judicial vacancies.

The statute effectively removed any choice from voters and rendered the election of judges a mere formality. Voters in Marion County who did not cast a ballot in the primary election had absolutely no say in electing judges. Even people who did vote in the primary election had a say in only half of the judgeships.

"There is no more important right in our Constitution than that of exercising a meaningful vote," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "We are very pleased that the Court's decision forcefully reaffirms that right."

The Seventh Circuit ruling held that: "When an election law reduces or forecloses the opportunity for electoral choice, it restricts a market where a voter might effectively and meaningfully exercise his choice between competing candidates, and thus severely burdens the right to vote." The Court concluded that this severe burden was not justified.

Click here to download a copy of the decision.

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