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Thompson v. Jaeger

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Thompson v. Jaeger is a court case that stemmed from the North Dakota Secretary of State disqualifying the Pharmacy Ownership Repeal referendum from being placed on the November 2010 ballot.

The Pharmacy Ownership Repeal referendum was an effort started by pharmacists in North Dakota in 2009 to repeal the state's law requiring pharmacists to have a majority stake in owning a pharmacy[1].

North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drugs submitted over 13,000 signatures to the Secretary of State in April of 2010 exceeding the signature requirement by 91 signatures[2]. However, Secretary of State Al Jaeger disqualified the initiative on August 19, 2010. Jaeger cited that the initiative's sponsors failed to submit a document listing the group's committee members[3].

Thompson v. Jaeger addressed if its legal for the Secretary of State to require the initiative's sponsors to disclose the names of persons that serve on a campaign's leadership committee as part of turning in signatures. Eric M. Thompson, the Chairman of North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drugs, was the plantiff in the case while Secretary of State Al Jaeger was the Defendant.

The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that sponsors of initiatives must disclose the names of persons that serve on the campaign's leadership committee by a unanimous 5-0 vote on September 7, 2010[4].

Arguments

Cover page is a separate document

Eric Thompson, the plaintiff in the case, argued that Article III of the North Dakota Constitution clearly states that circulated petitions are not required to have a separate cover page listing the persons that serve on the sponsor's committee. Thompson claimed that the Secretary of State was incorrect in disqualifying the petition by violating Article III, Section II of state constitution. The section cites that only additional documents including the cover page is contingent upon the Secretary of State's approval and not part of the entire petition packet. Thompson further argued that the cover page requirement also violates Article III, Section 1 of the state constitution. The section states that additional laws to the state's initiative process can only be enacted if the new law does not restrict or impair the process[5].

Cover page is part of petition packet

Douglas Bahr, the North Dakota Solicitor General, filed a brief in response to Thompson's claims. Bahr appeared in court to argue the case on behalf of the Secretary of State. The response brief argued that Article III of the state constitution clearly stated that the cover page listing the committee members of the initiative's sponsors is part of the entire petition. Bahr also argued that the North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drug Prices failed to obey the Secretary of State's orders to turn in the cover page in addition to the petition signatures. The brief mentioned that the Secretary of State shown examples of previous petitions being turned in with the cover page to the sponsors. Bahr further argued that Thompson did not had enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to prove that the cover page requirement causes harm to the state's initiative process[6].

Ruling

The North Dakota Supreme Court found that the actual petition and the page listing the initiative's sponsors are not separate documents. The ruling found that Article III of the state constitution clearly states that a "petition" is not a separate document on the basis to determine it's sufficiency. The court rejected Thompson's argument that a petition was a separate document from the list of committee members of the sponsoring organization[7].

External links

References