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Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, candidates for certain offices, including the Presidency, must file financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission, 5 U.S.C. 103(e). A presidential candidate’s financial disclosure must include the “identity and category of the total liabilities owed to any creditor.” Reviewing officials determined that then-candidate Trump’s disclosures were “in apparent compliance.” Lovitky alleged that the disclosure included both personal and business liabilities, in violation of the Act, which “requires disclosure of only those liabilities for which candidates are themselves liable . . . or for which the spouse or dependent child of the candidate are liable.” Candidate Trump, Lovitky argued, “obscured his liabilities by commingling them with the liabilities of business entities.” Lovitky sought an order requiring amendment of the report. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The only possible basis of jurisdiction, the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. 1361, refers to actions “to compel an officer of the United States to perform his duty.” The Ethics Act obligation is not a “duty” under the Mandamus Act, which includes only those obligations that pertain to a defendant’s public office. Detaching the duty from the office could lead to serious incongruities. For example, where an officer is sued in his official capacity, FRCP 25(d) automatically substitutes as defendant the official’s successor in office, so that, under the Ethics Act, a public official could be compelled to perform the personal financial disclosure duties of his predecessor. View "Lovitky v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The board of directors of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (District) passed a resolution to apply to the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (Commission) to dissolve the District. A group of Julian residents (plaintiffs) sought to prevent the District's dissolution by presenting a referendum petition to the District board. The District did not act on the referendum petition, and the trial court denied plaintiffs' petition for writ of mandate to set an election on the District's resolution. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal was whether the District's resolution to apply to the Commission for a dissolution could be challenged through the voter referendum process. The Court concluded the District's resolution was not subject to referendum because, among other reasons, the Reorganization Act prescribed the exclusive method for dissolving, and/or protesting the proposed dissolution of, a fire protection district and the resolution was administrative in nature under the Reorganization Act. Accordingly, the trial court did not err, and the judgment was affirmed. View "Southcott v. Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection Dist." on Justia Law

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This case involved Florida's practice of counting vote-by-mail ballots only after verifying that the voter's signature provided with the ballot matches the voter's signature in the state's records. At issue in this appeal was NRSC's motion for emergency stay. The court denied NRSC's motion and held that NRSC failed to satisfy the requirements for the issuance of a stay. The court applied the factors in Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009), and held that NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on appeal. In this case, NRSC has not made a strong showing that the burden imposed on the right to vote is constitutional as judged by the Anderson-Burdick balancing test and NRSC has not made a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its laches argument. The court also held that the remaining Nken factors similarly disfavored a stay. View "Democratic Executive Committee of Florida v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court for Defendants Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank, Jr. in this battle between the Danbury faction and the Waterbury faction over the control of the state’s Independent Party, holding that the trial court’s decision was timely and that the trial court properly construed Conn. Gen. Laws 9-374. In its decision, the trial court ordered Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept candidate endorsements made pursuant to the 2010 bylaws of the Independent Party of CT-State Central - which, together with its officers, led the Danbury faction and filed the complaint - which, in effect, gave the Waterbury faction control over the Independent Party’s statewide nominations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s order of supplemental briefing and oral argument concerning its subject matter jurisdiction preserved its personal jurisdiction over the parties by stopping and later restarting the decision period, thus rendering the court’s decision timely; and (2) the trial court properly determined that section 9-374 rendered the 2010 bylaws controlling, as opposed to bylaws that the Danbury faction had previously filed with the Secretary. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this writ of error brought by the plaintiffs in error seeking to protect their rights with respect to the judgment of the trial court that was challenged on appeal in Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2019), holding that the writ of error was moot. In its judgment, the trial court resolved a dispute between the Danbury and Waterbury factions of the state’s Independent Party by granting declaratory and injunctive relief directing Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept only those endorsements made pursuant to the party’s 2010 bylaws. The plaintiffs in error were thirteen candidates for the state House of Representatives endorsed by the Danbury faction prior to the trial court’s decision. The endorsed candidates argued that the writ of error was moot because of the Secretary’s unchallenged decision to accept the Danbury faction’s endorsements with respect to twelve of them. The Supreme Court dismissed this action, holding (1) the writ of error was moot; and (2) the defendant in error’s separate request for relief was not properly before the Court. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The New Mexico Secretary of State sought to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November 2018 general election. A coalition of voters, political parties, and political organizations (Petitioners) sought mandamus relief from the New Mexico Supreme Court to order the Secretary to stop and make no further efforts to reinstate the straight-ticket option on grounds that she did not possess authority to do so. "Whether straight-ticket voting shall once more be a ballot option in general elections in New Mexico is a policy question for our Legislature. The Legislature cannot delegate election policy determinations." The Court concluded the Secretary’s efforts without legislative approval violated separation of powers principles and was unlawful. The petition for writ of mandamus was therefore granted. View "Unite New Mexico v. Oliver" on Justia Law

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Adams, a resident and member of the State Bar of Delaware, wanted to be considered for a state judicial position. Following the announcement of several judicial vacancies, Adams considered applying but ultimately chose not to because the announcement required that the candidate be a Republican. Because Adams was neither a Republican nor a Democrat, he concluded that any application he submitted would be futile. Adams challenged the Delaware Constitution's provision that effectively limits service on state courts to members of the Democratic and Republican parties, citing Supreme Court precedent: A provision that limits a judicial candidate’s freedom to associate (or not to associate) with the political party of his choice is unconstitutional. The governor responded that because judges are policymakers, there are no constitutional restraints on his hiring decisions. The Third Circuit ruled in favor of Adams, concluding that judges are not policymakers because whatever decisions judges make in any given case relates to the case under review and not to partisan political interests. The portions of Delaware’s constitution that limit Adams’s ability to apply for a judicial position while associating with the political party of his choice violate his First Amendment rights. View "Adams v. Governor of Delaware" on Justia Law

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The Dawsonville City Council voted to remove W. James Grogan as mayor in May 2017. Grogan sought review of the removal by filing a direct appeal and a petition for certiorari with the superior court. Grogan continued to serve as mayor pending the appeal, and the City then filed counterclaims against Grogan for attorneys’ fees and for money had and received to recoup salary paid and other benefits provided to Grogan if the City prevailed before the superior court. Grogan moved to dismiss the City’s counterclaims under Georgia's Anti-SLAPP statute. The superior court dismissed Grogan’s appeal of the removal decision, found his certiorari petition was “procedurally defective,” denied his motion to dismiss the City’s counterclaims, and granted partial summary judgment on the City’s money-had-and-received counterclaim. Grogan argued to the Georgia Supreme Court he had the right to a direct appeal to the superior court and that his certiorari petition was not procedurally defective. Grogan also argued the superior court erred in denying his motion to dismiss under the Anti-SLAPP statute because the City’s counterclaims were filed to punish Grogan for exercising his constitutional rights to petition and free speech and the City did not establish a reasonable probability of success on the merits of those counterclaims. Furthermore, Grogan argued the court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim because it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over that claim and failed to apply the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court concluded it had jurisdiction over this appeal, but did not consider Grogan’s challenges concerning the superior court’s dismissal of his appeal and certiorari petition from the removal decision because those claims were now moot. The Court determined the trial court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim. View "Grogan v. City of Dawsonville" on Justia Law

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Tommie James Ivy Sr. filed an election contest against William Randle Jr. and the Democratic Executive Committee of the City of Okolona, Mississippi following the primary election of the Democratic nominee for the office of city marshall. A special tribunal rendered judgment in favor of Ivy, ordered a special election and excluded Randle from the special election. Randle appealed, and Ivy cross-appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the special tribunal properly determined that a special election was required but improperly held that Randle was excluded from being a candidate. View "Randle v. Ivy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court invalidating the Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s (Secretary) act of certifying the eligibility of the Montana Green Party to nominate candidates for election to public officers in Montana, holding that the district court did not erroneously invalidate eighty-seven signatures due to noncompliance with Mont. Code Ann. 13-10-601(2). Plaintiffs filed this complaint seeking declaratory judgment that the Secretary’s Green Party certification was invalid due to noncompliance with section 13-10-601(2). The district court invalidated the certification and enjoined the Secretary from giving any effect to the Green Party ballot eligibility petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the legal sufficiency of the petition and the Secretary’s certification of the petition stated a cognizable claim for relief; (2) Plaintiffs’ claim did not involve a non-justiciable political question; (3) the Montana Democratic Party had legal standing to challenge the petition and the Secretary’s resulting certification thereof; and (4) the district court did not err in invalidating eighty-seven signatures due to noncompliance with the statute. View "Larson v. Secretary of State" on Justia Law