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Federal Judge in Virginia Rules Against Perry and Gingrich

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A federal judge said Friday that he could not rule to add Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and other presidential candidates on the Virginia primary ballot because they waited too long to challenge Virginia’s strict ballot law.

“In essence," Judge John A. Gibney Jr. ruled, “they played the game, lost, and then complained the rules were unfair.”

Only after failing to get 10,000 signatures in time, the candidates sued arguing Virginia’s strict ballot law was unconstitutional. The law requires that only people eligible to register to vote in Virginia may circulate petitions for signatures to place a candidate on the ballot. The candidates argued that the law restricts their rights of free speech and association because fewer people can advocate for them as candidates.

While the ruling was a loss for the candidates, especially Gingrich, who won’t appear on the primary ballot in his state of residence, it could affect future candidates trying to get on the ballot. Gibney said that had the candidates brought suit earlier in the process they may have prevailed on the merits of their case challenging Virginia’s law.

“Had the plaintiffs filed a timely suit, the Court would likely have granted preliminary relief. They are likely to prevail on the constitutionality of the residency requirement, and, had they filed earlier, they would have been able to obtain the requisite 10,000 signatures,” he decided.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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