In a decision released today, the U.S. District Court of Connecticut ruled that the state must allow the Libertarian Party to use out-of-state residents to collect signatures on petitions to appear on an election ballot.

Today’s injunction suspends a Connecticut election law that affects political parties that have not garnered enough votes to automatically list candidates on election ballots. These parties must petition the Secretary of State for permission to appear on ballots by collecting a minimum number of potential voters’ signatures. Political parties typically hire professionals, including those from other states, to gather signatures, but Connecticut’s law forbids the use of these out-of-state circulators. In today’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall called this law “a severe burden” on the Libertarian Party of Connecticut’s speech.

“This decision is good news for free speech,” said Dan Barrett, the ACLU of Connecticut’s legal director and an attorney in the case. “The Libertarian Party deserves the chance to deliver its message by hiring signature-gatherers based on their qualifications, not their zip codes. Today’s injunction is in line with what other federal courts across the country have said: restricting parties from hiring out-of-state circulators violates the First Amendment. We look forward to moving ahead with the case and winning a favorable final judgment.”

On behalf of the Libertarian Party, the ACLU of Connecticut and its cooperating attorneys, Day Pitney LLP, filed suit against Secretary of State Denise Merrill. The Libertarian Party of Connecticut is represented in the suit by Barrett and by Stanley Twardy, Jr., Daniel Wenner, John Cerreta, and Daniel Raccuia of Day Pitney LLP.