ACLU of Virginia Files Brief in Support of Perry's Lawsuit to get on GOP Ballot in VA

By Thomas Cloud | January 10, 2012 | 8:14 PM EST

Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to a group of supporters, Sunday Jan. 8, 2012, in Spartanburg, S.C.. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

( - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia has filed a brief in support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and three other Republican candidates denied ballot access in Virginia’s Republican Party Primary.

Perry filed his lawsuit on Dec. 27, after learning he would be denied ballot access under the state's more-than-cumbersome ballot law.

Currently former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are the only candidates on the Virginia GOP ballot.

According to the ACLU, the state violated the candidates’ constitutional rights by preventing them from using out-of-state petition circulators to gather the 10,000 signatures required to make the primary ballot.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the petition process is political speech that is protected by the Constitution,” Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia said in a statement.

The brief states: “Because the residency restriction imposes a severe burden on First Amendment rights, the Court must determine if it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.”

The brief cites Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation in which the Supreme Court ruled that petition circulators do not have to be registered voters of the state they gather signatures in. The Buckley ruling reserved the question of whether residency requirements would be unconstitutional.

A hearing before U.S. District  Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. is scheduled for Friday in Richmond.