No Labels just won its court battle to block candidates from using its ballot line to run for office in Arizona. No Labels is a “centrist” political party gearing up for a potential third-party presidential campaign to take on Joe Biden and Donald Trump if they are the nominees. Whatever your politics, this decision is a big win for the freedom of association – held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be the logical outcome of the First Amendment’s rights of free speech, assembly, and petition.
No Labels in October sued Adrian Fontes, the Secretary of State for Arizona, in an effort to keep potential down-ballot contenders from running as No Labels candidates without authorization. No Labels does not plan to run congressional candidates.
No Labels filed suit shortly after Richard Grayson, a man who has run for office at least 19 times, announced he would run as candidate for a minor state office under the party’s banner. Under Arizona law, this would have forced the fledgling movement to reveal its donors. Some Democrats have accused No Labels of being a spoiler that will poach votes from Biden, helping to pave the way for Trump to return to the White House. "I will use the campaign to expose the scam of No Labels (and to) excoriate the selfish and evil people who have organized this effort and their attempt to make sure that Donald Trump wins in November," Grayson said.
Courts have long recognized that for the freedom of association to mean anything we must respect its flip side – the freedom to refuse association. Both rights are subject to reasonable limitations, but such reciprocity is necessary in any relationship.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., a No Labels national co-chair, and former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, the group’s director of ballot integrity, said in a statement that, “Our ballot line cannot be hijacked. Our movement will not be stopped.”
Just like Vivek Ramaswamy could not automatically declare himself Trump’s running mate, a No Labels party member should not be able to unilaterally declare himself or herself a candidate on the ballot with no input from party leaders. Federal judge John J. Tuchi ruled that to enable Grayson to run as a No Labels candidate without prior authorization from the party would violate the party’s chosen structure and rights.
“The Party has substantial First Amendment rights to structure itself, speak through a standard bearer, and allocate its resources,” Judge Tuchi wrote.
Protect The 1st strongly supports Judge Tuchi’s ruling. This clear stand for association rights is a significant reaffirmation of the Constitution, regardless of any political implications. We look forward to further developments in this case.