The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to kick the Green Party’s White House candidate off the 2020 ballot could end up being a boon for former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Thursday, the court announced in a 5-to-2 ruling that the Green Party’s presidential nominee, Howie Hawkins, had violated the legal procedures required for candidates to wind up on Pennsylvania’s general election ballot. In a 28-page majority opinion, the Court’s five Democrat judges argued the original nominating documents the party had filed in August, with stand-in candidates at the top of the ticket for Hawkins, were missing candidate affidavits. As such, the initial qualification of the party for the November ballot was invalid, and later attempts to substitute Hawkins as the party’s presidential nominee were improper.
“Because the procedures for nominating a candidate for office by nomination papers were not strictly followed here, subsequent efforts to substitute Hawkins were a nullity,” the majority opinion reads.
Hawkins’ disqualification was opposed by the court’s two Republican judges, who argued that while the Green Party did not meet the initial qualification criteria for the November ballot, it was possible to fix the affidavit omission retroactively.
The legal challenge to the Green Party’s ballot status was first brought by the Pennsylvania Democrat Party. Its success could hold major ramifications for Biden’s campaign in the Keystone State, which will be one of the prime presidential battlegrounds this election cycle.
In 2016, President Donald Trump became the first Republican to carrying Pennsylvania since 1988. Trump’s success in the state, stemming from strong cross-over support among blue-collar voters that generally vote Democrat, was nonetheless by a narrow margin. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spent little time campaigning in the state, lost out on carrying the state by roughly 44,000 votes out of more than six million ballots cast.
Although Trump made significant inroads during that campaign with Pennsyvalnia’s non-college-educated whites, Clinton’s loss was also made by possible Jill Stein, the Green Party’s then-presidential nominee. In that election, Stein received nearly 50,000 votes across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Given the significant overlap between progressive Democrats and members of the Green Party on the political spectrum, numerous political strategists have suggested the Stein served as a “spoiler” for Clinton’s White House ambitions.