* Cook County Record…
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and some of his allies are arguing they were exercising free speech when they allegedly ran two Hispanic “sham candidates” to lure votes from a Hispanic primary challenger to Madigan, who is now suing Madigan and others on grounds such alleged tactics were unlawful.
Jason Gonzales filed suit in August 2016 in Chicago federal court alleging Madigan and some of his supporters engaged in underhanded methods to ensure a lopsided win for the Speaker in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The alleged unethical acts included slating two Hispanic candidates for no reason other than to split the Hispanic vote Gonzales has argued he could have received. The candidates were Joe Barbosa and Grasiela Rodriguez, who are also being sued by Gonzales. […]
Gonzales is arguing defendants should not be permitted to use the First Amendment as a defense. Defendants countered by filing arguments on why they should be allowed.
* From the Madigan filing…
(C)omplaints about campaign strategies, even “dirty tricks” that successfully undermine candidacies, are not actionable in federal court. See, e.g., Jones, 892 F.3d at 939 (referendum pushed by candidate’s opponents to disqualify him from running for mayor was “a political dirty trick,” but the “right response” would have been a “political,” “campaign against the … referendum” and prevail “at the ballot box rather than the courthouse”). As the Jones court stated, “[a]ny effort by the judiciary to stop one politician from proposing and advocating steps that injure another politician would do more to violate the First Amendment … than to vindicate the Equal Protection Clause.” […]
(T)here is no intent requirement to run for office under Illinois law. […]
In fact, the state could not impose an intent requirement on any candidate for their purpose in running for office. For example, states cannot force candidates to swear loyalty oaths disclaiming certain beliefs to access the ballot. See, e.g., Communist Party of Ind. v. Whitcomb, 414 U.S. 441, 442‐43, 449‐50 (1974) (striking down requirement that political candidates swear that they do not advocate for the overthrow of government by force or violence); Socialist Workers Party v. Hill, 483 F.2d 554, 556‐57 (5th Cir. 1973) (candidates could not be forced to swear “obeisance and homage” to current form of government to access ballot). If the state cannot require Barbosa and Rodriguez to swear loyalty to the United States to run for office, the state certainly cannot require Barbosa and Rodriguez to swear they are not running to make it harder for Plaintiff to win a primary.
And if the First Amendment protects candidates who run with the intent of altering our form of government, then certainly it protects Barbosa and Rodriguez for running with whatever intent they had, including the alleged intent to take votes away from Plaintiff.