SPRINGFIELD — Bloomington physician David Gill is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to restore his name to the Nov. 8 ballot as an independent candidate in the 13th Congressional District.
Gill’s campaign announced Friday that it has appealed to the nation’s high court to reverse a decision from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that ultimately removed the candidate from the ballot. The appeals court blocked an order from a lower court that would have guaranteed Gill a spot on the ballot, and the Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously Monday to remove him.
“We live within a rigged political system, and our inability to obtain a fair hearing before the Court of Appeals is not surprising,” Gill said Friday in a prepared statement. “We turn now to the Supreme Court, with hopes that our case receives the same level of intellectual honesty that we received in U.S. District Court.”
Gill, who ran for Congress four times previously as a Democrat, collected 8,491 of the 10,754 valid signatures he needed on his nominating petitions to earn a spot on the ballot alongside U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Democratic challenger Mark Wicklund of Decatur.
After Wicklund and former Macon County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Stocks objected to his petitions at the elections board, Gill filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s signature requirement for independent congressional candidates. He argues that it’s unconstitutional because it’s out of line with the requirement for major party candidates. Davis and Wicklund each had to gather fewer than 740 signatures.
After hearing arguments last month in Springfield, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough didn’t rule on the merits of Gill’s argument, but she ordered the elections board to allow him on the ballot because he and his supporters would suffer irreparable harm if he were excluded. She said the state failed to show that it would be harmed by allowing him to appear.
A three-judge panel of the Chicago-based appeals court blocked that order and denied Gill’s requests for a quick hearing so that a decision could be made before Election Day.
Sam Cahnman, the Springfield attorney representing Gill in the case, acknowledged that the chances of the Supreme Court stepping in are low.
“Anytime you go to the Supreme Court, it’s a long shot,” Cahnman said, but no other options remained after the appeals court refused to take up the matter swiftly.
“They won’t even give us an opportunity to have a decision on the merits,” he said.
Gill has until a week before the election to notify local election authorities if he wishes to run as a write-in candidate.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the elections board in the case, did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
Local election authorities had until Friday to prepare absentee ballots to mail to military and overseas voters.