WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a last-ditch bid to put Ralph Nader on Oregon's election ballot.
Nader supporters asked the court last week to block Oregon from printing ballots without Nader's name. The court declined, although Justice Stephen Breyer noted he supported the stay.
The court's action was good news for presidential candidate John Kerry's supporters, who feared Nader would draw votes from the Democrat.
Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court sided with state election officials who found flawed petitions left Nader short of the 15,306 signatures needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Richard Hasen, an election law expert at Loyola Law School, said disputes over petition signatures are common. "These kind of bread-and-butter issues are not the kind of thing the court gets involved in," he said.
Four years ago, Nader received 5 percent of the vote in Oregon as the Green Party nominee. This year, he has the support of fewer than 2 percent of Oregon voters in recent polls.
Daniel Meek of Portland, Ore., the attorney for Nader's supporters, had told justices in a filing that the petition rules were unclear.
Oregon residents vote by mail, and counties have started printing 1.9 million ballots.
Mary Williams, Oregon's solicitor general, said Nader still can get write-in votes. "Oregon's election process will be severely disrupted if a stay is ordered," she wrote in papers filed with the court last weekend.
Nader is on the ballot in more than 30 states and is suing for ballot access in several others. In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court yesterday ordered that Nader be placed on the ballot there. In Maine, a state judge ruled yesterday that Nader could remain on the ballot there.
The Supreme Court's action is not expected to affect his other challenges.