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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by six Columbus electors (Relators) to compel members of the Franklin County Board of Elections (Respondents) to place a proposed city ordinance on the November 6, 2018 ballot, holding that Respondents did not abuse their discretion in excluding the measure from the ballot. If adopted, the proposal would establish a “Community Bill of Rights” related to water, soil, and air protection and prohibit certain oil and gas extraction activities within the City of Columbus. Respondents found that the proposed ordinance was beyond the city’s legislative power because it would create new causes of action. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Respondents did not abuse their discretion in concluding that the proposed ballot measure was beyond the scope of the city’s legislative power. View "State ex rel. Bolzenius v. Preisse" on Justia Law

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Liberty PAC sued Illinois officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that campaign contribution limits set by the Illinois Disclosure and Regulation of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Act, violated the First Amendment. Invoking the intermediate-scrutiny framework, Liberty PAC challenged specific provisions as not closely drawn to prevent quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. The Act sets lower contribution limits for individuals than for corporations, unions, and other associations; allows political parties to make unlimited contributions to candidates during a general election; lifts the contribution limits for all candidates in a race if one candidate’s self-funding or support from independent expenditure groups exceeds $250,000 in a statewide race or $100,000 in any other election; and allows certain legislators to form “legislative caucus committees,” which, like political party committees, are permitted to make unlimited contributions during a general election. The district judge dismissed the first three claims as foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent. After a bench trial, the judge held that legislative caucus committees are sufficiently similar to political party committees to justify their identical treatment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Supreme Court campaign-finance cases plainly foreclose any argument that the contribution limits for individual donors are too low or that the limits for other donors are too high. The court rejected an argument that the Act is fatally underinclusive by favoring certain classes of donors. View "Illinois Liberty PAC v. Madigan" on Justia Law

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The DNC and others filed suit against the state of Arizona, challenging two state election practices: (1) Arizona's longstanding requirement that in-person voters cast their ballots in their assigned precinct, which Arizona enforces by not counting ballots cast in the wrong precinct (OOP policy), and (2) H.B. 2023, a recent legislative enactment which precludes most third parties from collecting early ballots from voters. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 and the OOP policy did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments because they imposed only a minimal burden on voters and were adequately designed to serve Arizona's important regulatory interests; the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 and the OOP policy did not violate section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; DNC failed to show that minority voters were deprived of an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice; and the district court did not err in holding that H.B. 2023 did not violate the Fifteenth Amendment because plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of showing that H.B. 2023 was enacted with discriminatory intent. View "The Democratic National Committee v. Reagan" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was appointed as a presidential elector during the 2016 presidential election, he was deemed to have vacated his position under Minnesota's Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act, Minn. Stat. 208.40-208.48, when he attempted to vote for candidates other than those to whom he was pledged. Plaintiff then filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota statute and to enjoin Minnesota officials from counting the vote of the substitute elector. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action as moot where Congress had counted the Minnesota elector votes, and denied plaintiff's motion to supplement the record and to remand for further proceedings on mootness. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish that his action fell within the mootness exception for cases that were capable of repetition yet evading review because plaintiff failed to file his action sooner. View "Abdurrahman v. Dayton" on Justia Law

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In this challenge to an initiative petition seeking to expand Medicaid coverage the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the named sponsors of the petition and the Secretary of State, holding that Appellants’ statutory and constitutional arguments were unavailing. Appellants sought to invalidate an initiative petition that received enough signatures to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. The district dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by (1) dismissing as unripe and failing to find merit to Appellant’s claims that the ballot measure was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority and did not meet the statutory criteria for appropriations; (2) finding that the initiative did not violate the single subject rule; and (3) excluding a challenged exhibit from the evidence. View "Christensen v. Gale" on Justia Law

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During a campaign rally at Louisville’s Kentucky International Convention Center, then-candidate Trump spoke for 35 minutes. Plaintiffs attended the rally with the intention of peacefully protesting. Protesters’ actions during Trump’s video-recorded address precipitated directions from Trump on five different occasions to “get ’em out of here.” Members of the audience assaulted, pushed and shoved plaintiffs. Plaintiff Brousseau was punched in the stomach. Defendants Heimbach and Bamberger participated in the assaults. Plaintiffs sued Trump, the campaign, Heimbach, Bamberger, and an unknown woman who punched Brousseau, for battery, assault, incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness. The district court dismissed claims against the Trump defendants alleging they were vicariously liable for the actions of Heimbach, Bamberger and the unknown woman, and dismissed a negligent-speech theory as “incompatible with the First Amendment” but refused to dismiss the incitement-to-riot claims. On interlocutory appeal, the Sixth Circuit found that the claim should be dismissed. Plaintiffs have not stated a valid claim under Kentucky law, given the elements of “incitement to riot.” Trump’s speech enjoys First Amendment protection because he did not specifically advocate imminent lawless action. Trump’s “get ’em out of here” statement, closely followed by, “Don’t hurt ’em,” cannot be interpreted as advocating a riot or the use of any violence. View "Nwanguma v. Trump" on Justia Law

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In this expedited elections case, the Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus ordering Solon Director of Finance Matt Rubino to certify the sufficiency and validity of an initiative petition proposing an ordinance that would amend the city of Solon’s zoning map to create the Kerem Lake Mixed-Use District to the board of elections for placement on the November 2018 ballot, holding that Rubino abused his discretion by failing to certify the sufficiency and validity of the petition to the board by the August 8 deadline. After the August 8 deadline passed with no action on this initiative, the petition committee filed this mandamus action. The Supreme Court granted relief, holding (1) Ohio Rev. Code 731.28, rather than Article XIV of the Solon City Charter, imposed a duty on Rubino to certify the initiative petition to the board; and (2) the committee was entitled to its costs and reasonable attorney fees. View "State ex rel. Harris v. Rubino" on Justia Law

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Phil Hart appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing his action contesting the results of a primary election for a State legislative seat. The district court ruled Hart had failed to demonstrate that any irregularities in the election were “sufficient to change the result” - an essential component of an election challenge under the Elections Contests Act, Idaho Code sections 34-2101–34-3128. Hart appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hart v. Idaho Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court validating the ballot title and summary of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution (Amendment 10), holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Amendment 10 should be included on the November 2018 ballot. Plaintiffs argued that the ballot title and summary of Amendment 10 mislead voters by failing sufficiently to describe Amendment 10’s chief purpose. The circuit court granted final summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the ballot language would enable the average voter to understand the primary effect of Amendment 10. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ballot language was not misleading in any of the ways advanced by Plaintiffs. View "County of Volusia v. Detzner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the ballot title and summary of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution (Amendment 13) were clearly and conclusively defective, vacated the injunction forbidding Amendment 13 from appearing on the November 2018 general election ballot, and ordered that Amendment 13 appear on the ballot for the November 2018 general election ballot. Specifically, the Court held (1) Amendment 13’s ballot language is not clearly and conclusively defective for failing to inform voters of Amendment’s fundamental value provision; (2) the ballot language does not misstate the effect of Amendment 13; and (3) the ballot language does not mislead voters with respect to Amendment 13’s scope. View "Department of State v. Florida Greyhound Ass’n" on Justia Law