Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The State of New Hampshire requires that political parties seeking to have their nominees listed on statewide election ballots demonstrate that one of its candidates received at least four percent of the statewide vote for Governor or United States Senator in the most recent prior statewide election. Alternatively, a party must submit nomination papers signed by a number of registered voters at least equal to three percent of the total votes cast in the most recent state general election. In 2014, New Hampshire reduced the time period during which New Hampshire law allows parties to gather nomination signatures and submit nomination papers from twenty-one months to seven months. In this suit, the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire (LPNH) claimed that the shortened window for gathering signatures violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court concluded that the undisputed facts did not establish a violation of LPNH’s asserted constitutional rights. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that New Hampshire’s regulations are a constitutional exercise of the state’s power over the election process. View "Libertarian Party of New Hampshire v. Gardner" on Justia Law

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On the fifth time before the First Circuit, Plaintiff, a United States citizen-resident of Puerto Rico, and his fellow plaintiffs challenged the denial of the right of Puerto Rico citizens to vote for representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives and their right to have five Puerto Rico representatives apportioned to that body. Plaintiffs further contended that the district court erred in refusing to convene a three-judge court to adjudicate their claims. When Plaintiff first raised the issue of congressional representation, a panel majority concluded that they were bound by past circuit decisions to find that Plaintiffs were not constitutionally entitled to the claimed right by means other than those specified for achieving statehood or by amendment. The First Circuit, noting that it was bound by precedent, affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in refusing to convene and three-judge court and dismissing the case on the merits; but (2) the three-judge-court issue should be reconsidered by the full court in an en banc rehearing of this case. View "Igartua v. Obama" on Justia Law

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In 2014, New Hampshire amended a statute by forbidding citizens from photographing their marked ballots and publicizing those photographs (referred to as “ballot selfies”). Three New Hampshire citizens filed suit, arguing that the statute was a content-based restriction of speech that, on its face, violates the First Amendment. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. On appeal, the New Hampshire Secretary of State argued that the statute was justified to prevent vote buying and voter intimidation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the statute as amended is facially unconstitutional even applying only intermediate scrutiny, and the statute’s purposes cannot justify the restrictions it imposes on speech. View "Rideout v. Gardner" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Plaintiffs brought this action arguing that they were unlawfully removed from the Commonwealth’s active voter registry for having failed to vote in the 2008 election for Resident Commissioner. On interlocutory appeal, the First Circuit held that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) bars Puerto Rico from removing voters from the registry for the office of Resident Commissioners unless they fail to participate in the preceding two general federal elections. On remand, the district court found in favor of Plaintiffs and issued injunctive and declaratory relief from removing otherwise eligible voters from the active election registry unless HAVA's requirements are met. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the National Voter Registration Act does not apply to Puerto Rico and thus does not supersede the Commonwealth’s voter deactivation procedures; (2) HAVA invalidates the deactivation procedures of Article 6.021 of Puerto Rico Act No. 2011 insofar as it applies to voter eligibility for federal elections; and (3) Plaintiffs may bring a private cause of action seeking relief under HAVA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. View "Colon-Marrero v. Garcia-Velez" on Justia Law