4th District Judge Jason D. Scott ruled today that rap star Kanye West can stay on Idaho's presidential ballot as an independent candidate, despite having been registered as a Republican in Wyoming at the time he certified to Idaho that he wasn't affiliated with any political party.
"Having gained fame first as a rapper and later for a variety of other reasons, Defendant Kanye West now seeks the office of President of the United States," the judge wrote in his 15-page decision, denying a request from the Idaho Democratic Party and two Idaho voters for a temporary restraining order against West appearing on Idaho's ballot.
"One might reasonably wonder whether Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm as a result of West's inclusion on the ballot, even assuming it to be unlawful," the judge wrote. "They present no evidence that West can be expected to draw a meaningful share of the vote -- large enough to either win Idaho's electoral votes or swing them from, say, President Donald Trump to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, whom the Idaho Democratic Party supports."
But the judge said his ruling on the temporary restraining order is based on the likelihood of the lawsuit's success on its merits. The lawsuit charges that West's certification that he's not affiliated with any political party is false. The judge found that even assuming the certification is false, filing a false certification doesn't render a candidate ineligible for Idaho's ballot. He cited a 2008 Idaho Supreme Court decision in Henry v. Ysursa that found candidate Rex Rammell wasn't ineligible to run as an independent even though he was campaigning as "the real Republican in the race" and "a Republican running as an independent."
"The Idaho Supreme Court held that Rammell met the candidacy requirements, obligating the Idaho Secretary of State to put him on the ballot, irrespective of the truth or falsity of his certification of 'no political party affiliation,'" Scott wrote in his decision.
"The upshot of Henry is that an independent candidate's mere certification satisfies the statutory 'no political party affiliation' requirement irrespective of any preexisting political party affiliation, as though the certification is a de facto withdrawal of any such affiliation," Judge Scott wrote. Idaho law, he found, requires "that the candidate 'must declare' that the candidate has 'no political party affiliation,' ... not that the candidate must actually have no political party affiliation."
"Were the Court to require, or to direct Denney to require, proof that the certification is true, the Court impermissibly would require more than the statute does," Scott wrote.
The judge also raised concerns about the plaintiffs' standing to sue.
"The Court won't order Denney to instruct Idaho's county clerks to issue no ballots that include the West-Tidball ticket or to withdraw his certification of their independent candidacy for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States," he wrote.
I'll have a full story on this later today.