Robert F. Kennedy Jr. files lawsuit against Utah for ‘unconstitutional early deadline’ practices

Dec 5, 2023, 2:10 PM | Updated: 4:39 pm

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks during a campaign event at Independence Mall, ...

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks during a campaign event at Independence Mall, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

SALT LAKE CITY — Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit against Utah’s state officials, claiming they are limiting his presidential bid on Monday.

According to the filed complaint, Kennedy Jr. is accusing Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Ryan Cowley, Director of Elections of the State of Utah, of enforcing an “unconstitutional early deadline imposed only on unaffiliated independent candidates for the Office of President of the United States.”

“Independent/unaffiliated candidates for the Office of President of the United States must collect and verify 1,000 petition signatures before they may file their ‘2024 Certificate of Nomination for
Unaffiliated Candidate’… which must be filed between the dates of Jan. 2, 2024 and Jan. 8, 2024,” the complaint states.

RFK Jr. Lawsuit vs. (Utah 2023) by Michael Houck on Scribd

According to the complaint, Kennedy Jr.’s campaign must collect and file 1,000 valid petition signatures, which must be validated by election clerks and filed to the State of Utah before the deadline.

“No state in the history of the United States has sought to impose such an early date to collect, validate and file ballot access petitions to secure ballot access for the general election to be held on the far-off date of Nov. 5, 2024,” the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that the early deadline for Utah’s 2024 election is “a severe violation of rights guaranteed under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution for which the State of Utah has no compelling nor legitimate interest to enforce.”

Petition Circulators

Four other plaintiffs are listed in the complaint, including Utah resident Steven Maxfield, the non-profit Liberty Initiative Fund, a Texas-based petition circulator Trenton Down Pool, and his petition circulating firm Accekeveate 2020 LLC.

According to the complaint, the four plaintiffs intended to circulate a statewide petition to impose term limits on Utah’s state legislators in 2025 for the 2026 general election ballot.

The plaintiffs claim that under state law, “only residents of Utah may circulate initiative and referendum petitions in Utah,” the complaint states.

Another Utah law requires “compensating initiative and petition circulators based on the number of valid signatures collected and requiring any compensation to be paid based on the number of hours worked,” according to the complaint.

The law also imposes the circulators “to wear a badge, identifying and announcing their status as paid petition circulator.”

Plaintiffs Requests

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are asking the federal court to order a preliminary deadline for independent presidential candidates to validate and file their nomination petitions for Aug. 1, 2024,

The plaintiffs also ask the court to permanently stop the State of Utah from enforcing the ban of out-of-state petition circulators, compensation, and badges ban.

KSL TV reached out to Henderson’s office for comment, replying, “We are reviewing the complaint, we have no comment at this time.”

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. files lawsuit against Utah for ‘unconstitutional early deadline’ practices