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Plaintiffs in this case were residents of Red Clay who were unable to access the polls during a special election held by Red Clay Consolidated School District in February 2015. In the election, residents were asked to approve an increase in the school-related property taxes paid by owners of non-exempt real estate located within the district. Red Clay prevailed in the special election, but Plaintiffs claimed electoral misconduct. The Court of Chancery declared that Red Clay violated the Elections Clause of the Delaware Constitution but did not award any greater relief because the violations did not warrant invalidating the special election. The court reached this result through a balancing of factors, including the dysfunction in Delaware’s system for funding public schools, which led to Red Clay facing a significant deficit without a favorable vote. View "Young v. Red Clay Consolidated School District" on Justia Law

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Petitioners who pursue the recall of a local school board member under the Recall Act are entitled to the procedural protections of the New Mexico statute prohibiting strategic litigation against public participation (Anti-SLAPP statute). This dispute arose out of a malicious abuse of process claim made by Taos school board member Arsenio Cordova (Cordova) against eighteen members of an unincorporated citizens’ association (collectively, Petitioners) following their efforts to remove Cordova from office under the Local School Board Member Recall Act (Recall Act). The New Mexico Supreme Court concluded that petitioners were entitled to immunity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine when they exercise their right to petition unless the petitioners: (1) lacked sufficient factual or legal support; and (2) had a subjective illegitimate motive for exercising their right to petition. View "Cordova v. Cline" on Justia Law

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North Carolina redrew Congressional Districts 1 and 12 after the 2010 census. Previously, neither district had a majority black voting-age population (BVAP), but both consistently elected candidates preferred by most African-American voters. The state needed to add 100,000 people to District 1 to comply with the one-person-one-vote principle; it took most of them from heavily black areas of Durham—increasing the district’s BVAP from 48.6% to 52.7%. District 12’s BVAP increased from 43.8% to 50.7%. State courts upheld the redistricting. The district court found it unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed. Although the state court’s decision is relevant, the district court properly concluded that race furnished the predominant rationale for District 1’s redesign and that compliance with the Voting Rights Act could not justify that consideration of race, which subordinated other criteria. The redistricting cannot withstand strict scrutiny under the “Gingles” factors. For nearly 20 years, African-Americans made up less than a majority of District 1’s voters, but their preferred candidates scored victories. District 1 was a “crossover” district, in which members of the majority help a “large enough” minority to elect its candidate. History gave the state no reason to think that the Act required it to ramp up District 1’s BVAP. The evidence, even without an alternative map, adequately supported the conclusion that race, not politics, accounted for District 12’s reconfiguration. “By slimming the district and adding a couple of knobs to its snakelike body, North Carolina added 35,000 African-Americans and subtracted 50,000 whites, turning District 12 into a majority-minority district,” indicating a determination to concentrate black voters. View "Cooper v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Once removed from office, a justice court judge may not return to it by reelection or otherwise Former Justice Court Judge Rickey Thompson challenged the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee’s decision to withhold his name from the general-election ballot for a new term as a justice court judge, based on the Court’s order removing him from the office of justice court judge prior to the election. The circuit court dismissed Thompson’s case, finding him ineligible for judicial office. The Mississippi Supreme Court concurred with the circuit court and affirmed. Thompson also claimed that the proper procedures for removing him from the ballot were not followed, as neither the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance nor the Lee County Election Commission had authority to disqualify him. Because the Supreme Court held that Thompson’s removal was permanent, it did not address whether the proper procedures for removing him from the ballot were followed. View "Thompson v. Mississippi Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Keep Our Dollars in Independence County (KODIC), a local-option ballot question committee, sponsored a petition to allow Independence County voters to decide whether to permit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the county. Tracey Mitchell, the Independence County Clerk, determined that the petition was insufficient to be placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot because 424 otherwise valid signatures had not been counted on the grounds that those signatures appeared on petition parts also containing the signature of someone outside Independence County in violation of Ark. Code Ann. 3-8-811(b)(6). KODIC and taxpayer Carol Crosby appealed, arguing that section 3-8-811(b)(6) is unconstitutional. The circuit court affirmed Mitchell’s certification of insufficiency. The Supreme Court dismissed the parties’ appeal and the cross-appeal, holding that the issues raised on direct appeal and on cross-appeal were moot because the November 8, 2016 general election has already occurred. View "Keep Our Dollars in Independence County v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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Mark Moore and two others filed suit against the Arkansas Secretary of State, challenging certain Arkansas statutes that set the filing deadline for individuals who wish to appear on the general election ballot as independent candidates. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the filing deadline is unnecessarily early and thus violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin the Secretary from enforcing this deadline against Moore. The district court granted the Secretary's motion for summary judgment and denied Moore's motion for reconsideration. The court concluded that the district court correctly noted that the March 1 filing deadline for independent candidates imposes a burden "of some substance" on Moore's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and that Arkansas has a compelling interest in timely certifying independent candidates for inclusion on the general election ballot. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in determining that there was no genuine dispute of material fact whether the March 1 deadline is narrowly drawn to serve that compelling interest. In this case, there exists a genuine factual dispute whether the verification of independent candidate petitions would conflict with the processing of other signature petitions under the former May 1 deadline. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moore v. Martin" on Justia Law

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In 1976, Nevada’s voters approved the creation of the Commission on Judicial Discipline through constitutional amendment. In this case, a group of individuals within the City of North Las Vegas sought to remove a municipal judge through a special recall election rather than through the system of judicial discipline established by the majority of voters in 1976. The municipal judge sought an emergency injunction from the district court and also filed a complaint challenging the legal sufficiency of the recall petition. The district court denied all of the municipal judge’s claims, concluding that judges are “public officers” subject to recall under the Nevada Constitution and that the form of the petition did not violate the judge’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the recall petition against the municipal judge was invalid because the drafters of the constitutional amendment at issue and the electorate who approved it intended that recall no longer be an available means of removing a judge from office. View "Honorable Catherine Ramsey v. City of North Las Vegas" on Justia Law

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In June 2012 the voters of City of San Diego (City) approved an initiative, the "Citizens Pension Reform Initiative" (hereafter, CPRI), which adopted a charter amendment mandating changes in the pension plan for certain City employees. The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) determined City was obliged to "meet and confer" pursuant to the provisions of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) over the CPRI before placing it on the ballot and further determined that, because City violated this purported obligation, PERB could order "make whole" remedies that de facto compelled City to disregard the CPRI. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that under relevant California law the meet-and-confer obligations under the MMBA had no application when a proposed charter amendment is placed on the ballot by citizen proponents through the initiative process, but instead applied only to proposed charter amendments placed on the ballot by the governing body of a charter city. The Court also concluded that, although it was undisputed that the City's Mayor, Jerry Sanders, and others in City's government provided support to the proponents to develop and campaign for the CPRI, PERB erred when it applied agency principles to transform the CPRI from a citizen-sponsored initiative, for which no meet-and-confer obligations exist, into a governing-body-sponsored ballot proposal within the ambit of "California ex rel. Seal Beach Police Officers Assn. v City of Seal Beach," (36 Cal.3d 591 (1984)). Accordingly, the Court held PERB erred when it concluded City was required to satisfy the concomitant "meet-and-confer" obligations imposed by "Seal Beach" for governing-body-sponsored charter amendment ballot proposals, and therefore PERB erred when it found Sanders and the San Diego City Council committed an unfair labor practice by declining to meet and confer over the CPRI before placing it on the ballot View "Boling v. Public Employment Relations Bd." on Justia Law

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Tasha Dillon contested the results of the August 4, 2015, Democratic primary for Mississippi House of Representatives (“House”) District 98. The Pike County Circuit Court dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Dillon appealed. Finding that the circuit court erred in finding it lacked jurisdiction, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Dillon v. Myers" on Justia Law

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Appellants, members of a Minneapolis citizen group, submitted a petition to the Minneapolis City Council for consideration of a question regarding a proposed amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter. The proposed amendment would require City police officers to obtain and maintain professional liability insurance coverage and would impose other conditions for coverage and indemnification. Concluding that the proposed insurance amendment conflicted with and was preempted by state law, the City Council directed the City Clerk not to include the amendment question on the ballot for the November 2016 election. Appellants filed a petition to challenge that decision. The district court agreed with the City Council and dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the proposed insurance amendment conflicts with state law, and therefore, the district court properly dismissed Appellants’ petition. View "Bicking v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law