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This case involved statutory interpretation concerning application of the reporting requirements contained in the Washington Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), chapter 42.17A RCW. The specific issue presented was how the FCPA reporting requirements in RCW 42.17A.255 and the definition in RCW 42.17A.005(4) ("ballot proposition") were to be applied in the context of local initiatives. In 2014, Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) staff created sample municipal ordinances and ballot propositions for citizens to use to advance certain causes to their local city councils or commissions. Local residents in the cities of Sequim, Chelan, and Shelton used those samples in filing two ballot propositions in each city, one to require collective bargaining negotiation sessions to be publicly conducted and the second to prohibit union security clauses in city collective bargaining agreements. The proponents submitted the proposed measures to their local city clerks along with signatures they had gathered in support of the measures, and asked their respective city councils or commissions either to pass the measures as local ordinances or, if the councils or commissions did not agree, to alternatively place each measure on the local ballot for a vote. None of the cities passed the measures as ordinances or placed the ballot propositions on the local ballots. In response, EFF employees, who were attorneys, participated in lawsuits against each jurisdiction on behalf of the local resident proponents, each suit seeking a judicial directive to the respective city to put each measure on the local ballot. Each lawsuit ended in a superior court dismissing the case, and those decisions were not appealed. EFF did not file any campaign finance disclosure reports identifying the value of the legal services it provided to the resident proponents in support of the local ballot propositions. The State conducted an investigation and then filed a civil regulatory enforcement action against EFF alleging EFF failed to report independent expenditures it made in support of the noted local ballot propositions. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' reversal of the trial court's 12(b)(6) dismissal of the State's regulatory enforcement action under the FCPA: under the circumstances of this case, EFF's pro bono legal services were reportable. The applicable reporting statutes were not unconstitutionally vague, nor did their application here violate EFF's First Amendment rights. View "Washington v. Evergreen Freedom Found." on Justia Law

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In this original proceeding challenging certain election results, the Supreme Court entered judgment in favor of the State of Hawaii, Chief Election Office Scott Nago, and the Office of Elections (collectively, the State Defendants) and against Plaintiff Matthew LoPresti, holding that Kurt Favella received the highest number of the votes case in the November 6, 2018 general election and has been elected to the Office of State Senate, District 19 pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-155. Plaintiff filed a complaint challenging the election results for Office of State Senate, District 19, arguing, among other things, that irregularities in voting or counting of votes precluded the correct result from being ascertained and that Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-172 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment in favor of the State Defendants. View "LoPresti v. State " on Justia Law

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Virginia's Incumbent Protection Act, Va. Code Ann. 24.2-509(B), violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. Subsection 24.2-509(B) limits the broad authority recognized by subsection A, which empowers the duly constituted authorities of the state and local parties to determine the method by which a party nomination shall be made. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to permanently enjoin enforcement of the entire Act. The court agreed with the district court's finding that the fourth sentence of the Act, which protects the nomination prerogatives of incumbent members of Congress among others, violated the First Amendment because it imposed a severe burden on the associational rights of Virginia's political parties and the Commonwealth has been unable to show that it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. The court also agreed with the district court's decision to enjoin the Act's second and third sentences, which protect the nomination prerogatives of incumbent members of the General Assembly. The court held that the Committee had standing to challenge these provisions and that they were, if anything, even more offensive to the First Amendment than the fourth sentence. View "6th Congressional District Republican Committee v. Alcorn" on Justia Law

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End Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) argued that the ballot title for a King County property tax increase lacked information required by former RCW 84.55.050 (2012). The Washington Supreme Court found that RCW 29A.36.090 required ballot title objections be raised within 10 days of the public filing of that ballot title. EPIC's claim was brought nearly 4 years after the ballot title at issue in this case was filed, was was therefore deemed untimely. The Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the superior court. View "End Prison Indus. Complex v. King County" on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court elaborated as to its reason declaring invalid the ballot question authored by the state legislature that would approve an amendment granting the State the authority to impose a surcharge on investment real property, holding that the ballot question as written did not comply with the requirement that its language and meaning be clear and not misleading. After giving its reasoning for its decision, the Supreme Court held that the ballot question at issue was flawed on not presenting the information necessary to generate the “knowing and deliberate expression of voter choice” necessary for ratification. See Kahalekai v. Doi, 590 P.2d at 550 (Haw. 1979). View "City & County of Honolulu v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court and held that third-place finisher Karen Faulkner was not entitled to appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot for the election for the District Court Judge of the 9th Division of the Jefferson District Court (District Court Judge). The order of the circuit court appealed from addressed which candidates were entitled to appear on the ballot of the November 2018 election for the District Court Judge. This case was initially brought as a declaratory judgment action by Karen Faulkner, a third-place primary election candidate. Faulkner asserted that, because the first-place vote-getter died, she should be deemed the second-place vote-getter and thus nominated for the general election. The Supreme Court held that Faulkner was not entitled to appear on the November 2018 ballot because Ky. Rev. Stat. Chapter 118A does not provide that the third-place primary election candidate ascends to a place on the general election ballot when either of the top two vote-getters dies after the primary election but before certification of the primary election results. View "Kentucky State Board of Elections v. Faulkner" on Justia Law

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McCormick County voters elected Clarke Anderson Stearns as their Sheriff in the November 8, 2016, general election. After the election, Appellants brought this action alleging "Stearns does not possess the necessary qualifications to be Sheriff of McCormick County." Based on that claim, Appellants "specifically request[ed]" the circuit court issue an order "enjoining the Defendant Stearns from serving as Sheriff of McCormick County." Before the circuit court action was filed, however, the losing candidate in the general election, J.R. Jones, filed a Title 7 election protest with the McCormick County Board of Canvassers. Jones filed the challenge on November 16, 2016. The county board held a hearing on November 21. By a vote of 3-to-3, the county board took no action on Jones's protest. Jones did not appeal the county board's decision. Jones then filed this action in circuit court on December 7, 2016, joined as plaintiff by the South Carolina Democratic Party and the McCormick County Democratic Party. This appeal presented two issues for the South Carolina Supreme Court's resolution: (1) whether a challenge to an elected official's legal qualifications to serve in the office to which he has just been elected must be brought pursuant to the administrative provisions of Title 7 of the South Carolina Code, or whether such a challenge may be brought in circuit court; and (2) whether the "certified law enforcement officer" requirement to serve as sheriff, found in subsection 23-11- 110(A)(5) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018), required the certification to come from South Carolina authorities, as opposed to authorities in another state. The Supreme Court determined the plaintiffs in this case were permitted to bring the action in circuit court, but the necessary certification to serve as sheriff need not come from South Carolina authorities. The Court affirmed the result of the circuit court's decision, which did not remove the elected McCormick County Sheriff from office. View "Jones v. South Carolina Republican Party" on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained its reasoning for its previously issued orders affirming the trial court’s rulings that the Proposition 127, Renewable Energy Standards Initiative qualified for the November 2018 ballot. At issue was a political action committee’s (Committee) organization formation, the adequacy of the title of the Initiative, and whether the trial court erred in finding a sufficient number of valid petition signatures to support placement of Proposition 127 on the ballot. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs may not contest the validity of the Initiative based on the statement of the Committee’s alleged non-compliance with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-906(B); (2) the Initiative’s title was legally sufficient; and (3) the trial court’s finding that there were a sufficient number of signatures required to place the Initiative on the ballot was not in error. View "Leach v. Reagan" on Justia Law

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Proposed Initiative 27 (I-27) would have allowed King County, Washington voters to decide whether to ban public funding for community health engagement location (CHEL) sites, colloquially known as safe injection sites, and to create civil liability for any person or entity who operates a site. The King County Superior Court granted respondent Protect Public Health's ("PPH") motion for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, and enjoined King County from placing I-27 on the ballot. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether the proposed initiative was beyond the scope of the local initiative power. The Court affirmed the superior court, holding I-27 was outside the scope of local initiative power because it improperly interfered with the budgetary authority of the King City Council. View "Protect Pub. Health v. Freed" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a candidate for public office in California, challenged the California Elections Code, which mandated that the primary ballot list his party preference as "None" instead of the Socialist Party USA. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that California, at this very early stage of the litigation, failed to demonstrate as a matter of law why its ballot must describe plaintiff as having no party preference when in fact he preferred the Socialist Party USA. The panel agreed with the Secretary of State that the burden the California statutes imposed on plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights was not severe. However, the burden imposed on plaintiff's rights was more than "slight" and warranted scrutiny that was neither strict nor wholly deferential. In this case, the primary purported justification for the statutes—avoiding voter confusion—was an important government interest, but it was unclear why less burdensome and less misleading alternatives would not accomplish the state's goals. View "Soltysik v. Padilla" on Justia Law