Court cases with an impact on the initiative process
| Initiative law|
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Ballot title challenges
| Laws governing|
local ballot measures
- Moore v. Ogilvie. A 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a distribution requirement in Illinois.
- Idaho Coalition United for Bears v. Cenarrusa, a 2001 decision invalidating Idaho's distribution requirement.
- Gallivan v. Walker, a 2002 decision invalidating Utah's distribution requirement.
- Montana PIRG v. Johnson, a 2005 decision invalidating Montana's distribution requirement.
- ACLU v. Lomax, a 2006 decision invalidating Nevada's distribution requirement.
These lawsuits pertain to where a circulator is allowed to stand when soliciting signatures on an initiative (or candidate) petition from a member of the public. There is considerable overlap between cases concerning where petitioners can stand to ask for signatures, and cases concerning where political leafletters can stand to pass out political leaflets or brochures. The first known lawsuit governing political expression on private property occurred in 1946, when Supreme Court held that the owners and operators of a company town could not prohibit the distribution of religious literature in the town's business district because such expression was protected by the First and 14th amendments.
Cases about petitioner access fall into two main categories:
Circulators collecting signatures on public property
- Groene v. Seng, Nebraska, 2006.
- Initiative & Referendum Institute v. United States Postal Service, ongoing.
Circulators collecting signatures on private property
Rulings in favor of private property rights against petitioners
- Lloyd Corporation v. Whiffen
- Waremart v. Progressive Campaigns, Inc., Washington, 1999.
- Stranahan v. Meyer, Oregon, 1999.
- Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Costco, California, 1998.
Rulings in favor of petitioners or leafletters
- Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center
- Fashion Valley Mall v. National Labor Relations Board
- Alderwood Associations v. Washington Environmental Council
- Oregon v. Cargill
Rulings that establish what a "reasonable limitation" is
- Ebbers v. Secretary of State, which challenges a Michigan law requiring that circulators for recall campaigns live in the district of the official whose recall is sought.
- Nader v. Brewer, which challenges Arizona's prohibition on non-residents collecting to qualify independent candidates for the ballot.
- Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, which challenges Oklahoma's law forbidding non-residents to circulate initiative petitions.
Rulings that invalidate residency requirements
- Chandler v. City of Arvada, (Colorado, 2002);
- Preserve Shorecliff Homeowners v. City of San Clemente (California, 2007);
- Frami v Ponto (Wisconsin, 2003).
Rulings that uphold residency requirements
- Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger, North Dakota, 1998.
Rulings that invalidate voter registration requirements
- In Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Colorado law requiring that petition circulators be registered voters in the political jurisdiction in which signatures are being solicited. The primary reason offered for this ruling is that requiring petition circulators to be registered voters (and, by extension, residents) of the political subdivision in which they are collecting signatures reduces the pool of those available to collect signatures which, in turn, reduces the quantum of political speech available.
Rulings invalidating initiatives
- Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 v. State of Washington, invalidating Washington Voter Approval for Tax Increases, Initiative 695 (1999).
- Armatta v. Kitzhaber. 1998 Oregon Supreme Court decision invalidating Oregon Ballot Measure 40 (1996).
- California Trial Lawyers Association v. Eu. This ruling pre-emptively struck the proposed "Insurance Cost Control Initiative" of 1988 from the California ballot.
- Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association v. Deukmejian, invalidating California Proposition 105 (1988).
- League of Oregon Cities v. Bradbury, which invalidated Oregon Ballot Measure 7 (2000).
- I-722 (2000); I-722 invalidated for violating Washington's single-subject rule.
Rulings upholding initiatives
- Committee for a Healthy Future v. Carnahan. Ruling ordered Missouri Healthy Future Trust Fund Act, Amendment 3 (2006) onto ballot, after Robin Carnahan had refused the measure for single-subject reasons.
- Missourians to Protect Initiative Process v. Blunt.
- United Gamefowl Breeders v. Nixon. Unsuccessful effort to invalidate the Missouri Cockfighting Initiative (1998) on single-subject grounds.
Rulings on single-subject constitutionality
- Campbell v. Buckley. An unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado's single-subject rule.