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Gonzalez Garza v. Starr County (Randy Crane, S.D. Tex. 7:18-cv-46)
A federal district judge declared unconstitutionally vague an apparent proscription against electioneering on county-owned property adjacent to voting locations, finding that the apparent order was expressed merely as a desire. Litigation continued during several amendments to the policy and several amendments to the complaint.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign materials; early voting.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Minnesota Majority v. Mansky (Joan N. Ericksen, D. Minn. 0:10-cv-4401)
On the Thursday before a general election, a federal complaint challenged proscriptions on wearing Tea Party shirts and “Please I.D. Me” buttons at the polls. On the following day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. The district judge heard the case on Monday morning and denied immediate relief. Following nearly five years of additional litigation, including an appeal, the judge granted the defendants summary judgment, finding the proscriptions justified as promoting decorum at the polls. The court of appeals agreed that it was reasonable to ban political apparel to ensure a neutral, influence-free polling place, but the Supreme Court decided that the proscription on speech relating to issues not actually on the ballot was too broad.
Subject: Polling place activities. Topics: Campaign materials; matters for state courts; news media; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Hispanic Leadership Fund v. Federal Election Commission (John A. Jarvey, S.D. Iowa 4:12-cv-339) and Hispanic Leadership Fund, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission (T.S. Ellis III, E.D. Va. 1:12-cv-893)
A group wishing to run a political advertisement filed a federal complaint against the Federal Election Commission in the South-ern District of Iowa because the Commission’s advisory to another group suggested that the Commission might not approve the plaintiff’s advertisement. Ten days after the complaint was filed, the district court dismissed the action, determining that it should have been filed in Washington, DC. Following the filing of a second complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia, the second district court decided on October 4 that three of five draft advertisements were electioneering communications subject to regulation because they referred to the presidential candidate for reelection.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Corporate electioneering; campaign materials; case assignment; campaign finance.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (1:10-cv-720) and Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes v. Ohio Elections Commission (1:10-cv-754) (Timothy S. Black and Susan J. Dlott, S.D. Ohio)
Two actions filed in late October 2010 challenged the constitutionality of an Ohio statute proscribing false statements about candidates for office. The judge in the first case stayed the federal case pending state executive and judicial proceedings, pursuant to Younger v. Harris. The judge in the second case also denied immediate injunctive relief, and the two cases were consolidated for further proceedings after the election. Dismissals for lack of live controversies were reversed by the Supreme Court. The court of appeals affirmed a holding that the statute was unconstitutional, and it affirmed dismissal of a candidate’s defamation counterclaim. The parties agreed to an attorney fee award of $1.3 million.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign materials; matters for state courts; recusal; case assignment; interlocutory appeal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Sloan v. Hearst Media Co. (Paul J. Barbadoro, D.N.H. 1:16-cv-52)
A pro se federal complaint filed on the afternoon of the day of presidential primary elections challenged the plaintiff’s exclusion from televised debates and challenged the refusal of a television station to air the plaintiff’s paid ads. The district judge denied the plaintiff a temporary restraining order on the day that the complaint was filed for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b)(1)’s notice requirements for a temporary restraining order. A little over two months later, a magistrate judge reviewed the complaint and recommended its dismissal. Reviewing the plaintiff’s objections, the district judge adopted the recommendation, and the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal.​
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign materials; pro se party; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Davis v. Johnson (2:16-cv-13454) and Simpson v. Garrett (2:16-cv-13784) (Arthur J. Tarnow, E.D. Mich.)
A frequent litigant and an incumbent school board member filed federal actions challenging restrictions on anonymous campaigning and seeking to overturn state court actions putting another candidate on the ballot. The district judge determined that the challenge to campaign restrictions required further administrative review and the challenge to state court rulings was barred by judicial immunity and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings. The court of appeals decided that litigation of this type belongs in state courts.
Topics: Matters for state courts; getting on the ballot; campaign materials.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden & Open Space Initiative v. City of Beverly Hills (Fernando M. Olguin, C.D. Cal. 2:16-cv-5532)
On July 25, six days after a condominium development initiative was approved for a city ballot in the November 8 general election, proponents of the initiative sought a temporary restraining order against a requirement that a substantial portion of their initiative advertising be devoted to a summary of the initiative prepared by city officials. On the following day, the district judge ordered the city to respond six days after that. On the day that the response was due, the parties stipulated to an injunction reducing the amount of specified text required in advertising for the initiative. In the event, the initiative failed.
Topics: Ballot measure; campaign materials.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

New Jersey Democratic State Committee v. New Jersey Oath Keepers (Jose L. Linares, D.N.J. 2:16-cv-8230)
Four days before a general election, a party committee filed a federal complaint to enjoin voter intimidation allegedly encouraged by a website that urged “incognito intelligence gathering” on election day. The district court “fail[ed] to see how Defendant’s members could intimidate voters who are not even aware of their presence.”
Topic: Campaign materials.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

O’Boyle v. City of Delray Beach (Donald M. Middlebrooks, S.D. Fla. 9:14-cv-80270)
A municipal candidate’s federal complaint alleged that a neighboring municipality was wrongfully taking down the candidate’s campaign signs in the defendant’s municipality. The district judge set the case for hearing on a Friday, four days after the complaint was filed, but the defendant city sought time to find outside counsel because an assistant city attorney was named in the complaint. The judge reset the hearing for the following Monday, but he urged the parties to come to a temporary agreement. A stipulated temporary restraining order forbade the defendant city from taking down the plaintiff’s signs in locations where campaign signs were permitted. Months later, the judge awarded the defendant city summary judgment because the taking down of the plaintiff’s signs resulted from a single city worker’s error that subsequently was corrected.
Topic: Campaign materials.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Taylor v. Johnson (John Corbett O’Meara, E.D. Mich. 5:16-cv-10256)
A district judge issued a preliminary injunction against a new statute that forbade local officials from providing any information on pending initiatives within 60 days of an election.
Topics: Ballot measure; campaign materials; campaign finance.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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