Foley Hoag



Pro Bono Rank Firm
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Foley Hoag (157)


When 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr was denied a spot on the Massachusetts ballot, Foley Hoag and the American Civil Liberties Union took action.

The Libertarian party had originally approached the Massachusetts election division with a request to use substitution, a common electoral practice. Because the state's deadline for submitting 10,000 The Am Law Pro Bono 100signatures per candidate cut so close to the Libertarian party convention in late May 2008, the party needed to gather signatures before a nominee was chosen and substitute the official nominee's name after the convention. But a week after the nominating convention, Massachusetts secretary of state William Galvin deemed the substitution unacceptable, adding that the party must collect 10,000 new signatures for Barr.

A team of Foley Hoag lawyers, including partner Matthew Baltay and associates Jennifer Behr and Amrish Wadhera, at first tried to negotiate with Galvin. When he maintained that the decision lay within his office's discretion, they sought a preliminary injunction in federal district court to force his hand.

With time running out on the state deadline to print ballots for the November election, Judge Nathaniel Gordon ruled in late September that Barr's name should be included because the rules for ballot substitution were unconstitutionally vague.

The Foley Hoag team says that while Barr didn't earn many votes in Massachusetts, the hundreds of hours they labored on this case would have a lasting electoral legacy.

"The decision has been cited in other ballot access cases, including one by the Pennsylvania supreme court," says Baltay, who notes that pending a final judgment on the secretary of state's appeal of Gordon's decision, the case could eventually result in a hearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. A ruling from that court could help clarify the state's ballot access laws. "This just shows that pro bono can get results," Baltay says.

—Rachel Breitman | July 1, 2009

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