The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state elections commission not to forward presidential primary ballots to county clerks as it considers an attempt by Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips to be added as a candidate.
The ruling came six days after Phillips asked the court to intervene and request that his name be added to the ballot of the state’s Democratic leaders on the presidential election committee in the battleground state. Currently, the only Democrat on the April 2 ballot is President Joe Biden.
The Supreme Court’s one-sentence order on Thursday instructed the Wisconsin Elections Commission not to transmit the ballot until further notice. The court has not yet decided whether it will rule on the case, but agreed with the arguments of Phillips, the election commission and the presidential selection committee.
State Department lawyers representing the election commission and the presidential selection committee said at a hearing Wednesday that Phillips’ objection should be rejected because he did so too late.
Ballots must be mailed to military and overseas voters no later than Feb. 15, and county clerks must begin drafting and distributing ballots “as soon as possible” to meet that deadline, the attorneys said.
They asked the court to dismiss Phillips’ lawsuit by Friday, saying that after that “it will become increasingly difficult for clerks to feasibly prepare, deliver, and mail ballots on time.”
Election commission spokeswoman Riley Vetterkind had no comment on the court’s decision.
Phillips, who represents neighboring Minnesota in Congress, is running a long-shot primary bid as the only Democrat challenging Biden for elected office.
Phillips’ lawsuit alleges that his request to be placed on the ballot was illegally ignored by the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee, which consists of Republican and Democratic leaders who put forward names for the ballot, as well as the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The committee voted on Biden, former President Donald Trump and five other Republican rivals, including four who have since abandoned the campaign.