Court denies request to list Johnson as Libertarian in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson will appear on Ohio ballots but without his party’s label after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an emergency request from the state’s party.

Johnson and running mate Bill Weld are slated to be listed on the swing state’s ballots without any political affiliation.

Libertarians aren’t recognized as a political party in Ohio. Party activists successfully collected enough signatures to get Johnson on the ballot by way of a process for independent candidates.

Johnson could complicate a close presidential race in Ohio if voters with unfavorable opinions of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton seek another choice.

Last week, the Libertarian Party of Ohio asked the high court to allow their top-of-the-ticket contenders to be listed with their party’s name.

“Whether the ticket’s presence on ballots will change the outcome of the election is anyone’s guess,” the party’s attorney wrote in their Supreme Court filing. “What is clear is that Republicans believed that (the Libertarian Party’s) absence from Ohio’s ballots would increase Republican candidates’ electoral odds in future elections.”

The court denied the request.

The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute over Ohio’s rules for minor political parties.

The Republican-led state legislature passed the tougher standards in 2013, as the GOP faced growing competition from the tea party.

Libertarians have fought the changes in state and federal court for years. They maintain the law unfairly disadvantaged third parties going forward, along with other claims.

Ohio’s attorneys had urged the Supreme Court to deny the request, claiming, among other arguments, that the public would be harmed by a “last minute ballot-label switch up.”

“Nothing is irretrievably lost if the Party sits out one more election, especially one where its preferred candidates may very well already be on the ballot as independents anyway,” state solicitor Eric Murphy wrote in a court filing.

Messages seeking comment were left with a Libertarian Party of Ohio spokesman.

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