City of Arcata Ban on Military Recruitment, Measure F (November 2008)

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A City of Arcata Ban on Military Recruitment, Measure F ballot question was on the November 4, 2008 ballot for voters in the City of Arcata in Humboldt County, California, where it was approved.

Measure F was intended to ban the military recruitment of youth under the age of 18 in the City of Arcata. Although the voters of the City of Arcata approved it, it was later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Election results

Measure F
Approveda Yes 6,690 72.76%
These final, certified, election results are from the Humboldt County elections office.


After Measure F won at the polls, the federal government filed a complaint with the city asking that it not be enforced. The Arcata City Council in mid-January "directed the City Attorney to conduct additional research on the matter for further discussion by the council in a Closed Session ... on Jan. 28."[1]

Arcata's governing body was concerned about the legal costs of defending the successful citizen initiative against a potential federal lawsuit.

The proponents of Measure F recruited Dennis Cunningham, a San Francisco attorney, to offer a pro-bono defense of Measure F.

Judge tosses Measure F

On June 18, 2009, federal judge Saundra Armstrong struck down Measure F as well as Measure J, a similar measure in Eureka, saying it was unconstitutional. Specifically, Armstrong agreed with federal Department of Justice attorneys that the law violates the clause of the federal Constitution that establishes the Constitution, federal statutes and treaties as the supreme law of the land. Government attorneys had argued that military recruitment falls under the purview of the federal government and that it cannot be regulated by state or local governments.[2]

Armstrong was appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 1991.


When a city ballot measure is set to appear on the ballot, the city attorney is required to provide an impartial analysis of the measure. This is the analysis provided by Arcata's city attorney, Nancy Diamond, to communicate the gist of Measure F to the city's voters. This analysis was printed in the official voter guide for the November 4, 2008 election.

Measure F: "Initiative Measure F would prohibit within the City of Arcata any United States government employee from recruiting for the military, or initiating contact for the purpose of recruiting for the military, any person who is under 18 years of age. The Measure would not prevent persons of any age from voluntarily visiting a military recruitment office or specifically initiating a request to meet with a recruiter. Nor would the measure prevent non-United States government employees from encouraging persons under 18 years of age to join the military.

Military recruiters and their commanding officers would be held responsible for violations, which are designated as infractions. Infractions under the Arcata Municipal Code are punishable by fines not exceeding $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation within one year, and $500 for each additional violation within one year. Under Measure F, a violation of five or more times per month would be deemed a public nuisance.

If approved by a majority of the voters at the November 4, 2008 election, the Ordinance by its own terms would go into effect 30 days thereafter.

A YES vote approves the Measure.

A NO vote rejects the Measure.

Path to the ballot

Measure F was a citizen-initiated measure and required the collection of signatures to earn its spot on the ballot.[3]

See also