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Law Humor: Lowering the Bar
"Pro-Life" Candidate Seeks to Appear on Idaho Ballot
By Kevin Underhill
Probably most Senate candidates from Idaho have been pro-life, but this one is Pro-Life. Literally.
Mr. Pro-Life, 66, is a strawberry farmer who was born "Marvin T. Richardson." He ran for the state legislature under that name in 2004, but got just 22.1 percent of the vote. He then legally changed his name to "Marvin Pro-Life Richardson," planning to run for governor in 2006. But that attempt was foiled by the Idaho Secretary of State's office. Citing a state supreme court decision holding that ballots can only identify candidates and cannot include political slogans, state election officials, who apparently loathe the unborn, refused to let the new middle name appear on the ballot.
"I don't know why they're being so ridiculous," said Marvin Pro-Life Richardson at the time. "Maybe they think I'll get a certain amount of votes and it would cause the election to go some way or another. But I don't think that's going to happen." It didn't. Plain old "Marvin Richardson" got 7,309 votes, but that was only 1.62 percent of the total.
Richardson announced recently that he had legally changed his name again, so that he is now known only as "Pro-Life." Deprived of the ambiguity they previously exploited in order to further their anti-life agenda, state officials have said their hands are now tied: Pro-Life must appear on the ballot. In fact, he might appear on a lot of ballots, since Pro-Life says he is committed to running for the highest state office that is in play in each election, every two years, for the rest of his life. (In this election, he is running for the Senate seat about to be vacated by Larry Craig.) "I think it's just and I think it's proper to have Pro-Life on the ballot," he said.
But this battle of wits is far from over. Opponents of Pro-Life, most of whom are pro-life, say they are concerned that pro-life voters may be confused by the presence of Pro-Life on the ballot along with other pro-life candidates. If voters choose both, thinking a vote for Pro-Life is really a vote for pro-life, that ballot would be disqualified. On Monday, the Legislature took up a bill that would add "(a person formerly known as ____)" to the ballot entry for anyone using a political slogan as a name. That bill rocketed through the state Senate and passed unanimously that afternoon. If it also passes the House, the new legislation may be in place for the upcoming election. "This is ridiculous," said Pro-Life. "I think it shows that we're a real debased kind of unintelligent society."
Pro-Life's platform is that doctors who perform abortions, and women who obtain the procedure, should get the death penalty.
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