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In this original action, the Supreme Court denied Montanans Against Tax Hikes’s petition for declaratory and injunctive relief to determine whether the ballot statement of Initiative 185 (I-185) met the requirements of Mont. Code Ann. 13-27-312, holding that the Attorney General’s ballot statement satisfied the requirements of Montana law. I-185 raised taxes on all tobacco products and amended the definition to include e-cigarettes and vaping products. Petitioners argued that the ballot statement was deficient because it contained false information that was likely to confuse voters, disagreed with the language of the last sentence in the ballot statement, and contended that the ballot statement provided no useful context for the tax increase on moist snuff. The Supreme Court held (1) while the ballot statement may contain a mathematical misstatement, this Court need not alter a technical mistake; (2) the last sentence is not misleading; and (3) not every detail of an initiative can be explained given the word limit on ballot statements. View "Montanans Against Tax Hikes v. State" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Robert McChesney's suit against the Commission after it imposed a civil penalty on him as treasurer of Bart McLeay's campaign for United States Senate in Nebraska. In this case, the Commission found that McChesney failed to file certain notices of campaign contributions that must be reported within 48 hours. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it was not reversible error for the district court to rule based on the record that was available to it, and the court rejected the Commission's contention that McChesney did not bring a proper challenge. On the merits, the court rejected McChesney's claim that the Commission failed to establish the 2014 penalty schedule and held that the statute did not require the Commission in 2014 to conduct the sort of evaluative review that McChesney sought; the district court properly declined to set aside the 2014 penalty schedule based on an alleged violation of the Sunshine Act or implementing regulations; and McChesney did not plead a plausible claim for relief based on alleged flaws in the Commission's voting procedure. View "McChesney v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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In this original action brought under Article II, Section 1g of the Ohio Constitution, the Supreme Court sustained the challenge brought by Relators regarding an initiative petition to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 6, 2018 ballot, concluding that Relators showed that Ohio law required invalidation of the petition. The proposed constitutional amendment at issue was called the “Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment.” Relators - the Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Committee and its individual members and Secretary of State Jon Husted - argued in part that the petition must be invalidated because several circulation managers failed to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3501.381(A). The Supreme Court invalidated the petition, holding that Relators demonstrated violations of section 3501.381(A) and that the constitutional challenges to that statute were without merit. View "Ohio Renal Ass’n v. Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment Committee" on Justia Law

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In this expedited election case, the Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Heaven Guest seeking to compel Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Columbiana County Board of Elections to place her name on the ballot on the November 6, 2018 ballot as an independent candidate for judge of the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas, holding that Guest failed to show by clear an convincing evidence that Husted abused his discretion in finding that Guest remained “affiliated with the Democratic Party” and denying Guest’s nominating petition. Specifically, the Court held that Guest failed to show that Husted abused his discretion or disregarded the law when he rejected her petition. View "State ex rel. Guest v. Husted" on Justia Law

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The Lieutenant Governor of Alaska declined to certify a proposed ballot initiative that would establish a permitting requirement for activities that could harm anadromous fish habitat, reasoning that the initiative effected an appropriation of state assets in violation of article XI, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution. The initiative sponsors filed suit, and the superior court approved the initiative, concluding that the proposal would not impermissibly restrict legislative discretion. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the initiative would encroach on the discretion over allocation decisions delegated to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game by the legislature, and that the initiative as written effected an unconstitutional appropriation. But the Court concluded the offending sections could be severed from the remainder of the initiative. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the superior court and remanded for that court to direct the Lieutenant Governor to sever the offending provisions but place the remainder of the initiative on the ballot. View "Mallott v. Stand for Salmon" on Justia Law

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Mendocino County Ballot Measure AI, which imposed a tax on commercial cannabis businesses, was approved by a simple majority of county voters. The trial court dismissed a challenge and denied plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that under a correct interpretation of article XIII of the California Constitution the tax imposed by Measure AI was not a general tax but, together with a related advisory measure, amounted to a special tax requiring approval by a supermajority of county voters. The court also rejected an alternative argument that Measure AI did not involve a tax at all, and instead imposed an unlawful fee. Because Measure AJ did not in any way limit the County’s ability to spend the proceeds collected under Measure AI, the tax necessarily and by its terms remained a general tax. View "Johnson v. County of Mendocino" on Justia Law

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Roland Riemers petitioned the North Dakota Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and issue a writ of mandamus directing the North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger to order a recount of the June 12, 2018 primary election for the office of secretary of state. Riemers argued he was entitled to an automatic recount under N.D.C.C. 16.1-16-01(1)(a) because he "failed to be nominated in a primary election by one percent or less of the highest vote cast for a candidate for the office sought." The Supreme Court determined the plain language of N.D.C.C. § 16.1-16-01(1)(a) requires a comparison of the highest votes cast for a candidate for the office sought without regard to the candidate's party. “The fact that we are required to construe N.D.C.C. 16.1-16-01(1)(a) does not preclude the remedy of mandamus.” Moreover, given the time constraints on ballot preparation for the general election, the Court determined no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law was available for Riemers. Under the plain language of N.D.C.C. 16.1-16-01(1)(a), Riemers was entitled to an automatic recount, and the Secretary of State was statutorily required to order that automatic recount. The Supreme Court exercised its original jurisdiction to consider Riemers' petition, and granted his request for a writ of mandamus. View "Riemers v. Jaeger" on Justia Law

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On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in light of Minnesota Majority v. Mansky, 849 F.3d 749, 753 (8th Cir. 2017). 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 defendants' as-applied First Amendment claim. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants and this court affirmed. The Supreme Court then reversed and remanded, holding that the statute violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky" on Justia Law

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Voters Not Politicians (VNP) was a ballot-question committee. It filed the initiative petition at issue in this case with defendant Michigan Secretary of State. The initiative proposal would, among other things, amend Const 1963, art 4, section 6, which established a commission to regulate legislative redistricting. The commission prescribed by Michigan's present Constitution was inactive because the Michigan Supreme Court declared that it could not be severed from apportionment standards contained in the Michigan Constitution that had been held to be unconstitutional. After that ruling, the Supreme Court oversaw redistricting until the Legislature took control of the process. VNP’s proposal would bring Michigan’s constitutional redistricting standards in line with federal constitutional requirements and revive the redistricting commission’s authority to set redistricting plans for the state house, state senate, and federal congressional districts. A sufficient number of registered electors signed the petition for it to be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot. Before the Board of State Canvassers could certify the petition for placement on the ballot, plaintiff Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), along with other plaintiffs, filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus directing the Secretary of State and the Board to reject the VNP proposal. CPMC argued that the proposal was not an amendment of the Constitution that could be proposed by petition under Const 1963, art 12, section 2; rather, the proposal amounted to a “general revision” of the Constitution and could be enacted only through a constitutional convention under Const 1963, art 12, section 3. The Court of Appeals granted the request by VNP and other parties to intervene as defendants and to file a cross-complaint seeking a writ of mandamus requiring the proposal to be placed on the ballot. The Supreme Court took this case to determine whether the VNP petition was a constitutionally permissible voter-initiated amendment under Const 1963, art 12, section 2, and concluded after a thorough review, that VNP's proposal was a permissible voter-initiated amendment. View "Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution v. Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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In this challenge to the 2018 primary election ballot, the Court of Appeals held that the State Board of Elections was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the directives of the Election Law Article concerning the content of a primary election ballot. Oaks, a state legislator, filed a timely certificate of candidacy for the 2018 primary election. Oaks subsequently pled guilty to two felonies in federal court. Appellees filed this suit against the State Administrator of Elections to have Oaks’ name removed from the ballot. Arguing that Oaks' potential prison sentence would render him disqualified before the general election, Appellees filed a motion for an injunction to compel the State Board to remove Oaks’ name from the ballot. Oaks then gave up his voter registration, and the circuit court issued the requested injunction, an action that was contrary to the Election Law Article. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court’s preliminary injunction, holding (1) the State Board was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the statutory directives in composing the 2018 primary election ballot; and (2) those directives were constitutional as applied to retain Oaks’ name on the primary election ballot. View "Lamone v. Lewin" on Justia Law