Dobrovolny v. Moore

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Dobrovolny v. Moore was a federal lawsuit filed by Stan Dobrovolny against Scott Moore, in his capacity as Nebraska Secretary of State. On August 15, 1996, federal judge Richard Kopf upheld Nebraska law which requires initiative proponents to circulate their petition, before they know how many signatures are needed on it. The decision was appealed by Dobrovolny to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which upheld Kopf. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied cert.

Background

Plaintiff Dobrovolny claimed that a law in Nebraska that required initiative petitions to include signatures equal to 10 percent of the number of voters registered on the day that the petitions were to be submitted was unconstitutional. Even though this provision made it impossible for the proponents of initiatives to know how many signatures were needed (and thus made it more difficult to get issues on the ballot), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the requirement did not violate the First Amendment because it did not infringe upon the "ability to circulate petitions or otherwise engage in political speech."

Aftermath

Dobrovolny has subsequently been cited to uphold laws that have nothing to do with initiatives, as in the case of Wilson v. City of Des Moines, when it was cited to uphold the concept that the Eighth Circuit doesn't consider issues that are raised for the first time on appeal.

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