No Labels Party of Arizona Files Complaint Against Arizona Secretary of State, Alleging Violation of Election and Constitutional Laws
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The No Labels Party of Arizona filed a complaint today against Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, alleging it is being forced to offer its ballot line to candidates for races in which it has expressly declined to compete, in violation of Arizona election law and the U.S. Constitution.
The No Labels movement has been working for almost two years to get ballot access in states across the country to possibly offer its ballot line to an independent Unity presidential ticket in 2024. Arizona is one of 11 states where No Labels is now on the ballot.
But in August, Secretary Fontes’ office attempted to override the No Labels Party of Arizona’s decision and compel the party to nominate candidates in other races. The Secretary’s actions violate Arizona state law and the right to freedom of association safeguarded by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, the complaint alleges.
In the complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Phoenix by Osborn Maledon, P.A., the No Labels Party of Arizona said it has the right under Arizona law, A.R.S. § 16-301(A), to determine whether it will nominate candidates for a particular political office. Specifically, the No Labels Party of Arizona alleges that Secretary Fontes is forcing the party to participate in elections for Arizona corporation commissioner and U.S. senator. According to the law, if a party chooses not to participate in a race, it doesn’t have to nominate or recognize candidates who want to run on that party’s ballot line.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “a corollary of the right to associate is the right to not associate.” By forcing the No Labels Party of Arizona to accept candidates for races it doesn’t want to participate in, Arizona has unconstitutionally imposed its judgment on the party and unlawfully interfered with the party’s strategic choices. No Labels Party of Arizona filed this complaint to protect its rights.
“Our lawsuit in Arizona underscores the importance of respecting the autonomy and freedom of association of political parties, rights that are essential elements of the American democratic process,” said Gov. Jay Nixon, Director of Ballot Integrity at No Labels Inc.
Benjamin F. Chavis, National Co-Chair of No Labels Inc., said, "At its core, this lawsuit highlights the right to freedom of association, a cornerstone of our democracy. Political parties should have the liberty to define their goals and focus without external imposition," said.
The complaint seeks a declaration that Secretary Fontes violated A.R.S. § 16-301(A) and the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent further infringement on No Labels' rights. It also requests the award of attorneys' fees and litigation costs, retention of jurisdiction and any other necessary relief.
"We firmly believe in protecting the fundamental rights of political parties and their ability to define their mission and objectives. The No Labels Party of Arizona has a specific purpose, and we are committed to defending its rights under the law,” said Gail Koshland, Chair of the No Labels Party of Arizona.