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This case centered on the validity of a referendum question passed during the 2016 elections which granted the Dorchester County, South Carolina Council authority to issue up to $30 million in bonds for library facilities and up to $13 million for recreational facilities. Finding there was no indication the voters did not understand it, the circuit court determined it was not improper. But because the question contained two separate bond proposals and required voters to support both or neither, the South Carolina Supreme Court held it was unlawful. View "Zeigler v. Dorchester County" on Justia Law

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McArthur Sargent, chairman of The Waterworks and Gas Board of Dora, Alabama ("the Board"), in the name of the State of Alabama, appealed a circuit court order denying Sargent's petition for a writ of quo warranto seeking to declare Chris Edwards ineligible to hold office as a member of the Board because he was then-currently serving on the City Council of the City of Dora. The Alabama Supreme Court found that the restated and amended certificate of incorporation, which was controlling, did not include any prohibition against municipal officers serving on the Board. Accordingly, the Court held Edwards was duly appointed to serve as a member of the Board effective July 1, 2018, notwithstanding that he was already serving, as a member of the City Council of the City of Dora. View "State of Alabama ex rel. Waterworks and Gas Board of Dora, Alabama v. Edwards" on Justia Law

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Former Court of Appeals Judge Ceola James lost the 2016 election for the Court of Appeals by nearly twenty-two thousand votes. James filed an election contest against the winner, Judge Latrice Westbrooks, alleging Westbrooks improperly affiliated with the Democratic Party and improperly aligned herself with a political candidate, Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi’s Second United States Congressional District. James argued that she received all of the “legal” votes due to Westbrooks’s alleged violations of election law and pleaded that she is entitled to hold the judicial post won by Westbrooks. Westbrooks moved for summary judgment, and at the hearing on the motion, the trial court found James failed to submit proof that Westbrooks had improperly aligned her campaign with a political candidate or political party and granted summary judgment in favor of Westbrooks. View "James v. Westbrooks" on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained its March 20, 2019 order affirming the trial court's decision enjoining a recall election of Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, holding that the trial court did not err in ruling that the recall petition did not comply with Ariz. Rev. 19-202.01(D) and -203(D) because the petition sheets were not attached to a time-and-date-marked copy of the recall application. Displeased with Nowakowski's conduct as a councilman, some electors from District 7 of the City of Phoenix sought to initiate a recall election. Urban Phoenix Project PAC (the Committee) later submitted a recall petition to the Phoenix City Clerk for verification. The City Clerk certified that the petition had sufficient signatures to be on the ballot for the March 2019 election. Plaintiff challenged the recall petition. The trial court ruled that the recall was not eligible to be placed on the ballot because the Committee had failed to comply with the statutory requirements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Arizona Constitution guarantees voters the right to recall elected officers, but that right must be exercised pursuant to constitutional and statutory provisions; and (2) the signatures could not be certified because none of the Committee's petition sheets were attached to the complete time-and-date-marked application. View "Morales v. Archibald" on Justia Law

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The Yakima County clerk was ordered by a superior court judge to procure a supplemental bond to maintain her elected office. The court warned that failure to comply would result in the court declaring the office vacant. The clerk sought a writ of prohibition from the Washington Supreme Court to prevent enforcement of the superior court's order. The Supreme Court denied the writ: the superior court judge did not exceed the court's jurisdiction by issuing the supplemental bond order; the clerk could have availed herself of "a plain, speedy and adequate remedy at law - an injunction. Thus, prohibition will not lie." View "Riddle v. Elofson" on Justia Law

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In 2017, the League of Women Voters and Pennsylvania Democratic voters filed a state court lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional districting map. They alleged that Republican lawmakers drew the map to entrench Republican power in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and disadvantage Democratic voters and that the Republican redistricting plan violated the Pennsylvania Constitution by burdening and disfavoring Democratic voters’ rights to free expression and association and by intentionally discriminating against Democratic voters. Five months later, State Senate President Pro Tempore Scarnati, a Republican lawmaker who sponsored the 2011 redistricting plan, removed the matter to federal court, contending federal jurisdiction existed because of a newly scheduled congressional election. The federal district court remanded the matter to state court, where the suit has since concluded with a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. Citing 28 U.S.C. 1447(c), the federal court directed Senator Scarnati personally to pay $29,360 to plaintiffs for costs and fees incurred in the removal and remand proceedings. The Third Circuit ruled in favor of Scarnati, citing the Supreme Court’s directive that courts carefully adhere to the distinction between personal and official capacity suits, The court upheld a finding that the removal lacked an objectively reasonable basis. View "League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Respondents' joint motion to recall mandate, withdrew its opinion dated January 4, 2019, and substituted this opinion in its place, holding that the Fifth District Court of Appeal properly affirmed a trial court judgment invalidating an Orange County ordinance because home-rule counties may not enact ordinances on subjects preempted to the State and inconsistent with general law. In 2014, the Orange County Board of Commissioners enacted an ordinance proposing an amendment to the Orange County Charter and provided for a ballot question be presented for approval regarding a charter amendment providing for term limits and non-partisan elections for county constitutional officers. The ballot question appeared on the November 4, 2014 ballot and was approved by the majority of Orange County voters. After the underlying county ordinance and ballot title and summary were challenged, the trial court upheld the portion of the charter amendment providing for term limits but struck down that portion providing for nonpartisan elections, concluding that Orange County was prohibited from regulating nonpartisan elections for county constitutional officers because that subject matter was preempted to the Legislature. The Fifth District affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Florida Election Code expressly preempted the Orange County ordinance. View "Orange County v. Singh" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order denying Citizens' motion for attorney's fees, expert fees, and costs stemming from a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action that successfully challenged a 2015 state law that redrew Greensboro City Council districts. The court held that civil rights fee-shifting statutes, such as those at issue here, are not meant to punish defendants for a lack of innocence or good faith but rather to "compensate civil rights attorneys who bring civil rights cases and win them." The court explained that "innocence" or a "lack of responsibility" for the enactment of an unconstitutional law was therefore not an appropriate criterion to justify denying a fee award against the party responsible for and enjoined from enforcing the unconstitutional law. View "Brandon v. Guilford County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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In these public interest appeals arising from a mix-up at a high school polling place in the town of Stratford where approximately seventy-six voters received the incorrect ballots, rendering those voters unable to cast a vote for their assembly district's state representative, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court insofar as it dismissed Plaintiff's complaint and reversed the trial court's judgment with respect to its issuance of a temporary injunction, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims and similarly lacked jurisdiction to issue a temporary injunction. Plaintiff, a Republic Party's candidate for state representative, brought this action seeking declaratory relief, a new election, and injunction prohibiting certain state defendants from declaring the intervening defendant, the Democratic Party's candidate, as the winner of that election. The trial court dismissed the complaint in part as barred by the elections clause set forth in Conn. Const. art. III, 7 but granted Plaintiff's application for a temporary injunction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the elections clause gives the state House of Representatives exclusive jurisdiction over this election contest; and (2) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the state defendants from canvassing the votes and declaring a winner, even temporarily. View "Feehan v. Marcone" on Justia Law

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In this redacted appeal, the DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision refusing to enjoin the FEC from releasing information identifying a trust and its trustee in connection with a misreported federal campaign contribution. Plaintiffs claim that the Commission's release of documents identifying them would violate the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court held that FECA's provisions and the regulations thereunder did not bar the disclosure and authorized the Commission's action; Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), foreclosed plaintiffs' claim that the First Amendment barred the Commission from publicly identifying them; and FOIA could not be used to prevent the Commission from publicly revealing plaintiffs' identities. View "Doe 1 v. FEC" on Justia Law