Articles Posted in Election Law

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Mark Moore and two others filed suit against the Arkansas Secretary of State, challenging certain Arkansas statutes that set the filing deadline for individuals who wish to appear on the general election ballot as independent candidates. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the filing deadline is unnecessarily early and thus violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin the Secretary from enforcing this deadline against Moore. The district court granted the Secretary's motion for summary judgment and denied Moore's motion for reconsideration. The court concluded that the district court correctly noted that the March 1 filing deadline for independent candidates imposes a burden "of some substance" on Moore's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and that Arkansas has a compelling interest in timely certifying independent candidates for inclusion on the general election ballot. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in determining that there was no genuine dispute of material fact whether the March 1 deadline is narrowly drawn to serve that compelling interest. In this case, there exists a genuine factual dispute whether the verification of independent candidate petitions would conflict with the processing of other signature petitions under the former May 1 deadline. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moore v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Minnesota Secretary of State and others, challenging a statute prohibiting the wearing of political insignia at a polling place, Minnesota Statute 211B.11. This court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' as-applied First Amendment claim in Minnesota Majority v. Mansky, 708 F.3d 1051, 1059 (8th Cir. 2013). The district court, on remand, granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that the statute and Policy are viewpoint neutral and facially reasonable. The court noted that the statute and Policy prohibit more than election-related apparel. The court explained that, even if Tea Party apparel was not election-related, it was not unreasonable to prohibit it in a polling place. In order to ensure a neutral, influence-free polling place, all political material was banned. In this case, EIW offered nothing to rebut evidence that the Tea Party has recognizable political views. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment because no reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the statute and Policy as applied to EIW violated its First Amendment rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky" on Justia Law

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After MFA formed a campaign committee less than 30 days before the November 4, 2014, election and violated Missouri law section 130.011(8), MFA filed suit against the executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC), in his official capacity, seeking to declare unconstitutional the 30-day formation deadline. The district court granted a temporary restraining order, but after the election, dismissed MFA’s suit as not ripe. The court concluded that MFA has Article III standing to challenge section 130.011(8) on First Amendment grounds where MFA’s self-censorship is objectively reasonable; although the 2014 election has passed, this case is not moot where MEC can at any time implement its policy and assess the fee for violation of the formation deadline in section 130.011(8) and, in the alternative, this action is not moot under the “capable of repetition yet evading review” exception to mootness; and MFA’s case is ripe for review where MFA asserts the harm of self-censorship, based on its compliance with section 130.011(8). Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Missourians for Fiscal Accountability v. Klahr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against two public officials in their official capacities, alleging that the procedures they enforce for placing initiatives on Nebraska state and municipal ballots violate his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and seeking declaratory and prospective injunctive relief. The district court dismissed all but the Fourteenth Amendment claim against Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, entered judgment for plaintiff on that claim, enjoined Gale from enforcing certain provisions of the Nebraska Constitution, and awarded plaintiff attorneys' fees and costs. The Supreme Court made clear in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife that a wish to engage in future conduct, alone, does not provide the immediacy needed for threatened enforcement of a contested law to constitute injury in fact. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish standing to bring his Fourteenth Amendment claim where his interest in placing an initiative on the ballot, even if evidenced by a sworn statement and sample petition filed with Gale, is insufficient to establish an imminent threat of enforcement. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to prove he has standing to assert his interest as a petition signer where there is no evidence that plaintiff is registered to vote. Accordingly, the court vacated that portion of the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions. View "Bernbeck v. Gale" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to the Missouri Transportation Development District Act (Mo. Rev. Stat. 238.200), St. Louis City and University City passed resolutions and filed a petition, seeking to create the proposed District to build a trolley-car rail system and to fund the project by imposing up to a one percent sales tax on retail sales in the proposed District. Notice was published in two newspapers for four weeks. No one opposed the proposal or sought to join the suit. In 2007, the court found that the proposal neither illegal nor unconstitutional and certified a ballot question for registered voters residing or owning property within the proposed District. Voters approved the ballot question and, in 2008, the court entered final judgment. The sales tax was imposed and has been paid and collected since 2008. In 2013, plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the District was not lawfully created and a permanent injunction barring the District from building and operating the trolley-car system. The district court dismissed some plaintiffs for lack of standing and granted the District summary judgment on another claim as precluded by state judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, rejecting a plaintiff’s claim that he did not receive constitutionally adequate notice of the state lawsuit. View "Glickert v. Loop Trolley Transp. Dev. Dist." on Justia Law

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Appellants, two Minnesota-based, grassroots advocacy organizations and their leaders, filed suit claiming that a provision of the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), Minn. Stat. 211B.01 et seq., inhibits appellants' ability to speak freely against school-funding ballot initiatives and, thereby, violates their First Amendment rights. The court rejected the county attorney's renewed challenge to standing; because the speech at issue occupies the core of the protection afforded by the First Amendment, the court applied strict scrutiny to legislation attempting to regulate it; the county attorneys failed to demonstrate that the interests advanced in support of section 211B.06 - preserving fair and honest elections and preventing fraud on the electorate - is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest where the section is both overbroad and underinclusive and is not the least restrictive means of achieving any stated goal; and the attorney general is immune to suit. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.View "281 Care Committee, et al. v. Arneson, et al." on Justia Law

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Voters filed suit against Officials challenging the process by which Officials confirmed the eligibility of voters who register on election day (election day registrants or EDRs). Voters also challenged a provision of the Minnesota Constitution denying the right of persons under guardianship to vote, as well as the sufficiency of notice afforded to such persons under certain Minnesota statutes. The court concluded that Voters could not prevail on their 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims based on Officials' failure to verify EDR's voting eligibility before allowing EDRs to cast their votes where Voters raised no allegations of the "aggravating factors" identified in Pettengill v. Putnam County R-1 School District; alleged no discriminatory or other intentional, unlawful misconduct by Officials sufficient to implicate section 1983; and alleged no defects causing Minnesota's voting system to be so "fundamentally unfair" that relief under section 1983 would be appropriate. Further, Voters lacked standing to raise their remaining claims where the amended complaint failed to allege that any plaintiff has been denied the right to vote by a constitutional provision barring persons under guardianship from voting. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Voters claims and denial of their motion for summary judgment as moot. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance, et al. v. Ritchie, et al." on Justia Law

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IRTL challenged the constitutionality of several Iowa campaign-finance laws, an administrative rule, and two forms. The court concluded, inter alia, that IRTL lacked standing to challenge the definitions of "political committee" and "permanent organization" because it faced no credible threat or present or future prosecution; the first two sentences of Iowa Code subsection 68A.404(3), the second sentence of subsection 68A.404(3)(a), the entirety of subsection 68A.404(4)(a), the first and third sentences of Iowa Administrative Code rule 351-4.9(15), and Form Ind-Exp-O were constitutional as applied to IRTL and groups whose major purpose was not nominating or electing candidates; the first and third sentences of subsection 68A.404(3)(a), the second sentence of Iowa Administrative Code rule 351-4.9(15), the entirety of subsections 68A.404(3)(a)(1) and 68A.402B(3), and Form Dr-3 were unconstitutional as applied to IRTL and groups whose major purpose was not nominating or electing candidates; and Iowa Code section 68A.503 was constitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Iowa Right To Life Committee v. Tooker, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, groups interested in electoral and government reform, sued Minnesota, challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota's Election Day Policy and Minn. Stat. 211B.11, subd. 1, which banned the wearing of any political insignia to a polling place. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the dismissal of their First Amendment and Equal Protection claims. The court held that plaintiffs have failed to state a facial claim under the First Amendment under Minn. Stat. 211B1.11, subd. 1. The court reversed and remanded the as-applied First Amendment claim to the district court so that it could properly analyze the motion as a request for summary judgment through application of the standards articulated in Rule 56 and to give the parties sufficient opportunity to create an acceptable record. The court held that plaintiffs have failed to allege that Minnesota caused selective enforcement of the facially neutral statute and Policy and has therefore failed to state an equal protection claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Minnesota Majority, et al v. Mansky, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint and moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, alleging section 16, article V, of the Iowa Constitution, as implemented by Iowa Code sections 46.2, 46.4-46.10, and 46.14, violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the laws. The court concluded that the State Judicial Nominating Commission was a "special limited purpose" entity for its sole function was to select the most qualified candidates for judicial appointments and forward the names of these candidates to the Governor for a final appointment. This narrow function had a disproportionate effect on a definable group of constituents - members of the Iowa Bar - over other voters in the state. Therefore, the election of the attorney members of the Commission was an election of special interest. Applying rational basis review, the court agreed that the district court's Iowa system of election for the Commission's attorney members by and from members of the Iowa Bar was rationally related to Iowa's legitimate interests. Therefore, Iowa's system did not violate plaintiffs' rights under the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.