List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2014

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NOTE: The following tab shows a list of lawsuits, by state, that were filed against statewide ballot measures aiming for the 2014 ballot. Click the "show" link to read about specifics of a particular lawsuit.

Alaska

Alaska Bristol Bay Mining Ban, Ballot Measure 4 (2014)

Hughes vs. Treadwell et al.

In January 2013, Richard Hughes, a mining engineer, filed a lawsuit against the initiative's certification by Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell (R) in the Alaska Fourth Judicial District. The Alaska Miners Association and the Council of Alaska Producers joined as plaintiffs. Hughes and plaintiffs argued that the initiative would, according to the court's summary, "(1) enact local or special legislation in violation of article XI, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution; (2) violate separation of powers under article XII, section 11 of the Alaska Constitution; and (3) appropriate state assets in violation of article XI, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution." Judge Paul Lyle ruled against all three points made by Hughes. However, Hughes appealed the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court.[1]

The Supreme Court issued their order on June 23, 2014. The court affirmed the superior court ruling made by Judge Paul Lyle.[1]

Matt Singer, a lawyer for Hughes, said they were disappointed. He noted, "[T]he decision reflects the court's evolving preference for refraining from pre-election review."[2]

California

California Proposition 48, Referendum to Overturn Indian Gaming Compacts (2014)

North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians lawsuit

In March 2013, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians filed a lawsuit in the Madera County Superior Court challenging the veto referendum. The petitioners are putting forward two legal arguments against the measure: (1) AB 277 is final because federal law allows tribes to own and operate casinos, as long as state law does not prohibit casino gambling. However, a compact, like AB 277, must be signed by the Governor and approved by the US Secretary of the Interior. Thus, they argue, a ratified compact can not be challenged via veto referendum because the compact has been approved by the federal government pursuant to federal law; (2) A contract between a state and a tribe may not be subject to the initiative and referendum process.[3]

California Proposition 49, Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Ruling Question (2014)

HJTA lawsuit

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) filed a lawsuit against the referendum's placement on the ballot on July 23, 2014. A legislatively-referred advisory question is an illegitimate use of the ballot since the ballot is used for law making, according to the HJTA. Jon Coupal, president of the association, said, "Legislative power can be exercised in numerous ways but this is not one of those."[4] He also equated the referendum to a public opinion poll." Coupal cited American Federation of Labor v. Eu as the basis for the lawsuit, noting, "If the people can’t do it, certainly the Legislature can’t do it, either."[5]

Derek Cressman, director of Yes on 49, responded, saying, "They are worried they can’t win this debate on substance so they are trying to prevent this debate from happening. It frankly looks like censorship."[4]

Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) has called for a judicial decision to be made before August 11, the day voter information guides go into print.[6]

California Referendum on AB 1266, Transgender Student Participation Based on Gender Identity (2014)

Gina Gleason vs. Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen, the California Secretary of State, said that about 5,000 signatures submitted in Mono County and Tulare County on Tuesday, November 12 were filed after the November 10 deadline. Those attempting to qualify the referendum for the ballot filed a lawsuit against that decision by Bowen. In early January 2014, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, Allen Sumner, ruled against Bowen and said that the signatures must be accepted. The reason for this is that November 10 was a Sunday, and November 11 was Veteran's Day, a holiday, and the election offices in the two counties were closed. The judge wrote, "Ever since the voters enacted the referendum power in 1911, courts have liberally construed its provisions to protect the voters' power. The fact that the deadline for submitting petitions falls on a weekend preceding a holiday, or the county registrar closes a noon on Friday, should not prevent Petitioner from having her petition signatures accepted."[7]

California Pension Reform Initiative (2014)

Chuck Reed vs. Kamala Harris

Chuck Reed (D) announced that he will challenge the ballot summary, specifically the first line, as inaccurate and misleading in the Sacramento Superior Court.[8]

Reed argued, “Most people reading [the ballot summary] would believe that we're eliminating vested rights protections and benefits that workers have accrued, and the measure clearly doesn't do that. But using the word 'eliminate,' according to the union polling, apparently is a nice negative term to have in there. It shows a clear bias.” He also described using "nurses, teachers and peace workers" to describe public employees as "loaded and unfair." A statement from the Attorney General’s office disagreed, noting, “The Attorney General has issued an accurate title and summary, and we stand by it.”[9][10]

On March 13, 2014, Judge Allen H. Sumner ruled that Reed failed to provide sufficient evidence that Harris' ballot title and summary were false or misleading.[11] Judge Sumner's ruling can be summarized into the following statements:[12]

  • “Petitioners argue the word “eliminates” implies the initiative is deleting a provision of the Constitution. In fact, the summary states the initiative eliminates “constitutional protections,” not that it eliminates “Constitutional provisions.” There is nothing false or misleading here.” Petitioners also argue the word “eliminates” is likely to create prejudice because it “fosters a visceral negative response from voters.” Petitioners cite a public opinion poll. This poll is irrelevant. The Attorney General is charged with preparing a summary that is true and impartial; not a summary that polls well… Petitioners argue the fact voters have a negative response to the word “eliminates” proves the summary is not impartial. It does not. Voters may have negative responses to many words and phrases, for example “raises taxes” or “sex-offender.”
  • “Petitioners argue the phrase “constitutional protections” is similarly false and misleading. They maintain the California Rule is not constitutionally based, but rather a common law rule created by “language in certain appellate court decisions” suggesting state statutes governing public pensions create a contract between government agencies and their employees. Who are these unnamed appellate courts, with their imprecise language creating misleading suggestions? The California Supreme Court. Petitioners believe the California Rule is flawed and the California Supreme Court got it wrong. Petitioners are free to disagree with the California Supreme Court. They may ask the voters to change the law. The voters may agree. However, Supreme Court has the last word on what California law is. If the California Supreme Court says the California Rule’s protections are constitutionally based, they are. There is nothing false or misleading about the Attorney General’s summary of current California law.”
  • “Petitioners argue the word “vested” is false and misleading. Petitioners use the word to mean only benefits that have already been earned through past service -- not benefits yet to be earned through future service. Petitioners argue the Attorney General’s use of the term “vested” will mislead voters into believing the initiative would interfere with benefits already earned. The Attorney General’s summary does not. The summary twice informs voters the initiative deals with benefits “for future work.” This is accurate.”
  • “Petitioners challenge the Attorney General’s use of the phrase “including teachers, nurses, and peace officers” to describe who the initiative will effect. Petitioners object the description is not impartial because it singles out three very popular groups of public employees. The summary states the initiative applies to “current public employees.” It is certainly true that teachers, nurses and peace officers are public employees. Is it argumentative to cite these professions? The Attorney General responds teachers, nurses and peace officers make up close to half of all public employees. Her summary thus accurately and concisely identifies for the voters the employees affected.”


Illinois

Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment (2014)

Unconstitutionality Lawsuit

On April 29, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to prevent the term limits measure, as well as the Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment, from being placed on the ballot. The suit, which will likely end up in the Illinois Supreme Court, was filed by a group of business and nonprofit leaders. It alleges that placing term limits on legislators is unconstitutional. In 1994, the state supreme court struck down a term limits measure in a 4-3 decision. Supporters of the measures were anticipating legal challenges and felt confident that their respective measures would make the 2014 ballot. Mark Campbell of the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, said, "Illinois citizens across all spectrums are demanding change in Springfield and want a return to real public service by citizen legislators and an end to the era of career politicians in Springfield." According to the lawsuit, the formal complaint by the plaintiffs states the following:[13]

This taxpayer action seeks to restrain the expenditure of public funds to consider the propriety of two petitions proposing multiple amendments to the Legislative Article of the Illinois Constitution which should be enjoined because each of these proposed petitions fails to comply with the constitutional requirements of Section 3 of Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution for such amendments. One of the petitions (the "Term Limits Initiative") proposes amendments that are invalid for several reasons, most obvious that it imposes term limits on members of the Illinois General Assembly, which the Illinois Supreme Court already held to be an improper subject for amendments to Article IV.[14]

—Plaintiffs, [15]

Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment (2014)

Unconstitutionality Lawsuit

On April 29, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to prevent the redistricting measure, as well as the Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment, from being placed on the ballot. The suit, which many thought would go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, was filed by a group of business and nonprofit leaders. Supporters of the measures were anticipating legal challenges and felt confident that their respective measures would make the 2014 ballot. Michael Kolenc, of "Yes for Independent Maps," said, "Our coalition is confident that the independent maps proposal meets the structural and procedural requirements to amend the Illinois Constitution. Legal experts across the state agree with our position." According to the lawsuit, the formal complaint by the plaintiffs stated the following:[13]

This taxpayer action seeks to restrain the expenditure of public funds to consider the propriety of two petitions proposing multiple amendments to the Legislative Article of the Illinois Constitution which should be enjoined because each of these proposed petitions fails to comply with the constitutional requirements of Section 3 of Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution for such amendments. [...] The other petition (the "Redistricting Initiative") is likewise invalid for several reasons, including that it contains not a single structural or procedural change to Article IV, and in fact reaches far beyond Article IV to impose new eligibility requirements on all legislative, executive and judicial branch officeholders.[14]

—Plaintiffs, [16]

Michigan

Michigan Natural Resources Commission Referendum (2014)

Humane Society v. Johnson et al.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed a federal lawsuit with Judge Robert Cleland of the Eastern Michigan District Court. The groups asked the court to strike down a state statute requiring petition circulators to be residents of Michigan. Sherri Ferrell, a resident of Florida, desired to help circulate a petition for the referendum, but could not. She alleged, as did the appealing organizations, that her legal inability to do so infringes upon her free speech. The lawsuit stated, "Michigan’s state residency requirement for petition circulators severely restricts the abilities of non-Michigan-residents – including volunteer members of HSLF and Sherri Ferrell – to engage in core political speech in Michigan and to associate with the organizations and Michigan residents who support the initiatives." The lawsuit named Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R), Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) and Colleen Pero, chairperson of the Board of State Canvassers, as defendants.[17]

The ACLU deemed circulator residency requirements to be unconstitutional. They noted that similar laws have been recently struck down by federal judges.[18] The Local Initiative and Referendum Initiative, which is currently being circulated in Michigan, would eliminate residency requirements.

Judge Cleland dismissed the lawsuit on March 31, 2014 because the legislature passed a law, known as House Bill 5152, that allows for out-of-state circulators on March 27, 2014. Cleland said, "It appears to the court that, upon the Governor’s anticipated approval, the Plaintiffs’ case will become moot. In view of this impending change in the law, the parties have agreed to dismiss this matter."[19]

Missouri

Missouri Campaign Contributions Cap Amendment (2014)

Rex Sinquefield v. Jason Kander

Rex Sinquefield, a retired financier and frequent contributor to campaigns and candidates in Missouri, filed a lawsuit to block the Campaign Contributions Cap Amendment from appearing on the 2014 ballot.[20]

Sinquefield and lobbyist Travis Brown were both listed as plaintiffs. They claimed that "the initiative doesn’t adequately measure the financial impact of the amendment, unfairly restricts free speech and freedom of association and contains unfair language that could manipulate voters." Brown told the Missouri Times, "This ultimately is about freedom of expression and speech. An individual should have the right to express themselves by support or opposition to a candidate or committee." Sec. of State Jason Kander responded, saying he believed the language of the measure would be upheld in court. Courts have historically struck down attempts to limit campaign contributions, saying that the ability to donate money to campaigns and candidates is a form of free expression, which is protected by the first amendment.[20]

Montana

Montana Late Voter Registration Revision Measure, LR-126 (2014)

MEA-MFT, et al. v. Fox

On December 3, 2013, the MEA-MFT, AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Human Rights Network, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, Montana Women Vote and Western Native Voice filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court in an attempt to remove LR-126 from the ballot. The petitioners claimed LR-126’s title language to be false, as one line read, “ENSURING COMPLIANCE WITH THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT [NVRA].” They noted, “Nothing in LR-126 is required in any way by the NVRA.” The “inaccurate language” was returned by the Attorney General to the Secretary of State without proper review, according to the petitioners. Therefore, the measure “is legally insufficient as a ballot measure.”[21] The ACLU, League of Women Voters, AARP and the Montana Conservation Voters all filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the petitioners.[22] The Attorney General, the respondent, stated, “Petitioners’ argument fails because LR-126 does contain language regarding the NVRA that is accurately summarized in the referendum’s title and addresses a concern raised by legislative staffers.”[23]

On February 5, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in a 5-1 decision that LR-126 would stay on the ballot. Justice Michael Wheat was the lone dissenter. He said, "It is undeniable that same-day voter registration has absolutely nothing to do with compliance with the NVRA (National Voter Registration Act). Thus, the statement in the title of LR-126 to the contrary is a fatal defect that cannot be cured." Chief Justice Mike McGrath, writing for the majority, said, "[W]e are reluctant to take the extraordinary step of nullifying its placement on the ballot. [Supreme Court precedents] counsel in favor of allowing the measure to proceed to a vote."[24] The court did, however, declare the contested sentence in the ballot statement to be incorrect and ordered it to be rewritten. The original statement said that the referendum's approval was necessary to ensure compliance with a federal law, the National Voter Registration Act. According to the court, LR-126's intent is not required by the NVRA.[25]

Montana Primary Election Revision Measure, LR-127 (2014)

MEA-MFT, et al. v. Fox

On November 27, 2013, the MEA-MFT, AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Human Rights Network and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court in an attempt to remove LR-127 from the ballot. The petitioners claimed that LR-127’s title language was too long, as Montana statute limits the titles of referred statutes to 100 words. The measure’s title was 196 words long. Furthermore, they argued that LR-127 contained more than one subject as the measure would have both adopted an open primary system and a top two primary system. Therefore, the measure was “legally insufficient as a ballot measure.”[26] The Attorney General, the respondent, stated, “Since Petitioners have failed to allege untruth, partiality, argumentation, or prejudice in the ballot statement, and because they did not provide an alternate ballot statement pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 13-27-316(3)(b), the Court should reject their arguments regarding the statement of purpose and implication.”[27]

On March 24, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court ruled, in a 6 to 1 decision, to remove LR-127 from the ballot. They ruled that the title "does not comply with the plain meaning of the Legislature’s 100-word limit." Chief Justice Mike McGrath said, "The Legislature chose to place the 100-word limitation into the statute and must comply with its own law when referring a matter to the people for the vote. Furthermore, the title of LR-127 is not a mere technical violation of the statute, but is substantially in excess of the 100-word limit imposed by the Legislature." The Supreme Court also found the measure's title "complicated and confusing." Attorney General Tim Fox's spokesperson, John Barnes, stated, "Based on this new guidance from the Montana Supreme Court, the Legislature will need to revisit its rules governing the submission of referendums to voters."[28]

Montana Cable Company Property Tax Initiative (2014)

MEA-MFT v. Fox

The MEA-MFT, a union representing educators and government employees, filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court asking the court to invalidate the ballot summary for the Cable Company Property Tax Initiative. The MEA-MFT argues that Attorney General Tim Fox (R) should not have approved the initiative for petition circulation. The union deemed the ballot summary as "systematically untrue and argumentative." MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver said, "Bottom line, we will do what we can to prevent Charter from assaulting Montana’s tax code for its exclusive self-interest."

Big Sky Broadband Coalition for Lower Taxes, who supports the amendment, called the lawsuit a "standard political tactic."[29] Attorney General Fox responded, "Since petitioner (MEA-MFT) has failed to show untruth, partiality, argumentation or prejudice in the ballot statement, the court should reject their arguments, regarding the statement of purpose and implication."[30]

In a 5 to 0 decision, the Montana Supreme Court dismissed the case. The court stated, "We have made clear in several recent opinions that the attorney general’s legal sufficiency review does not authorize him to withhold a proposed ballot measure from the ballot for an alleged substantive constitutional infirmity. We conclude these principles clearly apply here. Therefore, we decline to disturb the attorney general’s legal sufficiency determination on the grounds that the initiative is unconstitutional."[31]

NOTE: Each lawsuit against proposed 2014 ballot measures includes a basis, or reason, as to why plaintiffs filed the lawsuit. For example, a reason for a filed lawsuit, or "topic," could include arguments that a measure's ballot text is insufficient.
No ballot measure lawsuits have been filed in 2014. Any information on ballot measure lawsuits can be sent to Al Ortiz, Assistant Project Director of Ballot Measures.

Ballot text

California

California Pension Reform Initiative (2014)

Chuck Reed vs. Kamala Harris

Chuck Reed (D) announced that he will challenge the ballot summary, specifically the first line, as inaccurate and misleading in the Sacramento Superior Court.[32]

Reed argued, “Most people reading [the ballot summary] would believe that we're eliminating vested rights protections and benefits that workers have accrued, and the measure clearly doesn't do that. But using the word 'eliminate,' according to the union polling, apparently is a nice negative term to have in there. It shows a clear bias.” He also described using "nurses, teachers and peace workers" to describe public employees as "loaded and unfair." A statement from the Attorney General’s office disagreed, noting, “The Attorney General has issued an accurate title and summary, and we stand by it.”[33][34]

On March 13, 2014, Judge Allen H. Sumner ruled that Reed failed to provide sufficient evidence that Harris' ballot title and summary were false or misleading.[35] Judge Sumner's ruling can be summarized into the following statements:[36]

  • “Petitioners argue the word “eliminates” implies the initiative is deleting a provision of the Constitution. In fact, the summary states the initiative eliminates “constitutional protections,” not that it eliminates “Constitutional provisions.” There is nothing false or misleading here.” Petitioners also argue the word “eliminates” is likely to create prejudice because it “fosters a visceral negative response from voters.” Petitioners cite a public opinion poll. This poll is irrelevant. The Attorney General is charged with preparing a summary that is true and impartial; not a summary that polls well… Petitioners argue the fact voters have a negative response to the word “eliminates” proves the summary is not impartial. It does not. Voters may have negative responses to many words and phrases, for example “raises taxes” or “sex-offender.”
  • “Petitioners argue the phrase “constitutional protections” is similarly false and misleading. They maintain the California Rule is not constitutionally based, but rather a common law rule created by “language in certain appellate court decisions” suggesting state statutes governing public pensions create a contract between government agencies and their employees. Who are these unnamed appellate courts, with their imprecise language creating misleading suggestions? The California Supreme Court. Petitioners believe the California Rule is flawed and the California Supreme Court got it wrong. Petitioners are free to disagree with the California Supreme Court. They may ask the voters to change the law. The voters may agree. However, Supreme Court has the last word on what California law is. If the California Supreme Court says the California Rule’s protections are constitutionally based, they are. There is nothing false or misleading about the Attorney General’s summary of current California law.”
  • “Petitioners argue the word “vested” is false and misleading. Petitioners use the word to mean only benefits that have already been earned through past service -- not benefits yet to be earned through future service. Petitioners argue the Attorney General’s use of the term “vested” will mislead voters into believing the initiative would interfere with benefits already earned. The Attorney General’s summary does not. The summary twice informs voters the initiative deals with benefits “for future work.” This is accurate.”
  • “Petitioners challenge the Attorney General’s use of the phrase “including teachers, nurses, and peace officers” to describe who the initiative will effect. Petitioners object the description is not impartial because it singles out three very popular groups of public employees. The summary states the initiative applies to “current public employees.” It is certainly true that teachers, nurses and peace officers are public employees. Is it argumentative to cite these professions? The Attorney General responds teachers, nurses and peace officers make up close to half of all public employees. Her summary thus accurately and concisely identifies for the voters the employees affected.”


Montana

Montana Late Voter Registration Revision Measure, LR-126 (2014)

MEA-MFT, et al. v. Fox

On December 3, 2013, the MEA-MFT, AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Human Rights Network, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, Montana Women Vote and Western Native Voice filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court in an attempt to remove LR-126 from the ballot. The petitioners claimed LR-126’s title language to be false, as one line read, “ENSURING COMPLIANCE WITH THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT [NVRA].” They noted, “Nothing in LR-126 is required in any way by the NVRA.” The “inaccurate language” was returned by the Attorney General to the Secretary of State without proper review, according to the petitioners. Therefore, the measure “is legally insufficient as a ballot measure.”[37] The ACLU, League of Women Voters, AARP and the Montana Conservation Voters all filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the petitioners.[38] The Attorney General, the respondent, stated, “Petitioners’ argument fails because LR-126 does contain language regarding the NVRA that is accurately summarized in the referendum’s title and addresses a concern raised by legislative staffers.”[39]

On February 5, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in a 5-1 decision that LR-126 would stay on the ballot. Justice Michael Wheat was the lone dissenter. He said, "It is undeniable that same-day voter registration has absolutely nothing to do with compliance with the NVRA (National Voter Registration Act). Thus, the statement in the title of LR-126 to the contrary is a fatal defect that cannot be cured." Chief Justice Mike McGrath, writing for the majority, said, "[W]e are reluctant to take the extraordinary step of nullifying its placement on the ballot. [Supreme Court precedents] counsel in favor of allowing the measure to proceed to a vote."[40] The court did, however, declare the contested sentence in the ballot statement to be incorrect and ordered it to be rewritten. The original statement said that the referendum's approval was necessary to ensure compliance with a federal law, the National Voter Registration Act. According to the court, LR-126's intent is not required by the NVRA.[41]

Montana Primary Election Revision Measure, LR-127 (2014)

MEA-MFT, et al. v. Fox

On November 27, 2013, the MEA-MFT, AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Human Rights Network and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court in an attempt to remove LR-127 from the ballot. The petitioners claimed that LR-127’s title language was too long, as Montana statute limits the titles of referred statutes to 100 words. The measure’s title was 196 words long. Furthermore, they argued that LR-127 contained more than one subject as the measure would have both adopted an open primary system and a top two primary system. Therefore, the measure was “legally insufficient as a ballot measure.”[42] The Attorney General, the respondent, stated, “Since Petitioners have failed to allege untruth, partiality, argumentation, or prejudice in the ballot statement, and because they did not provide an alternate ballot statement pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 13-27-316(3)(b), the Court should reject their arguments regarding the statement of purpose and implication.”[43]

On March 24, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court ruled, in a 6 to 1 decision, to remove LR-127 from the ballot. They ruled that the title "does not comply with the plain meaning of the Legislature’s 100-word limit." Chief Justice Mike McGrath said, "The Legislature chose to place the 100-word limitation into the statute and must comply with its own law when referring a matter to the people for the vote. Furthermore, the title of LR-127 is not a mere technical violation of the statute, but is substantially in excess of the 100-word limit imposed by the Legislature." The Supreme Court also found the measure's title "complicated and confusing." Attorney General Tim Fox's spokesperson, John Barnes, stated, "Based on this new guidance from the Montana Supreme Court, the Legislature will need to revisit its rules governing the submission of referendums to voters."[28]

Montana Cable Company Property Tax Initiative (2014)

MEA-MFT v. Fox

The MEA-MFT, a union representing educators and government employees, filed a lawsuit with the Montana Supreme Court asking the court to invalidate the ballot summary for the Cable Company Property Tax Initiative. The MEA-MFT argues that Attorney General Tim Fox (R) should not have approved the initiative for petition circulation. The union deemed the ballot summary as "systematically untrue and argumentative." MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver said, "Bottom line, we will do what we can to prevent Charter from assaulting Montana’s tax code for its exclusive self-interest."

Big Sky Broadband Coalition for Lower Taxes, who supports the amendment, called the lawsuit a "standard political tactic."[44] Attorney General Fox responded, "Since petitioner (MEA-MFT) has failed to show untruth, partiality, argumentation or prejudice in the ballot statement, the court should reject their arguments, regarding the statement of purpose and implication."[45]

In a 5 to 0 decision, the Montana Supreme Court dismissed the case. The court stated, "We have made clear in several recent opinions that the attorney general’s legal sufficiency review does not authorize him to withhold a proposed ballot measure from the ballot for an alleged substantive constitutional infirmity. We conclude these principles clearly apply here. Therefore, we decline to disturb the attorney general’s legal sufficiency determination on the grounds that the initiative is unconstitutional."[46]

Campaign contributions

Constitutionality

Alaska

Alaska Bristol Bay Mining Ban, Ballot Measure 4 (2014)

Hughes vs. Treadwell et al.

In January 2013, Richard Hughes, a mining engineer, filed a lawsuit against the initiative's certification by Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell (R) in the Alaska Fourth Judicial District. The Alaska Miners Association and the Council of Alaska Producers joined as plaintiffs. Hughes and plaintiffs argued that the initiative would, according to the court's summary, "(1) enact local or special legislation in violation of article XI, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution; (2) violate separation of powers under article XII, section 11 of the Alaska Constitution; and (3) appropriate state assets in violation of article XI, section 7 of the Alaska Constitution." Judge Paul Lyle ruled against all three points made by Hughes. However, Hughes appealed the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court.[1]

The Supreme Court issued their order on June 23, 2014. The court affirmed the superior court ruling made by Judge Paul Lyle.[1]

Matt Singer, a lawyer for Hughes, said they were disappointed. He noted, "[T]he decision reflects the court's evolving preference for refraining from pre-election review."[47]

California

California Proposition 48, Referendum to Overturn Indian Gaming Compacts (2014)

North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians lawsuit

In March 2013, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians filed a lawsuit in the Madera County Superior Court challenging the veto referendum. The petitioners are putting forward two legal arguments against the measure: (1) AB 277 is final because federal law allows tribes to own and operate casinos, as long as state law does not prohibit casino gambling. However, a compact, like AB 277, must be signed by the Governor and approved by the US Secretary of the Interior. Thus, they argue, a ratified compact can not be challenged via veto referendum because the compact has been approved by the federal government pursuant to federal law; (2) A contract between a state and a tribe may not be subject to the initiative and referendum process.[48]

California Proposition 49, Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Ruling Question (2014)

HJTA lawsuit

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) filed a lawsuit against the referendum's placement on the ballot on July 23, 2014. A legislatively-referred advisory question is an illegitimate use of the ballot since the ballot is used for law making, according to the HJTA. Jon Coupal, president of the association, said, "Legislative power can be exercised in numerous ways but this is not one of those."[4] He also equated the referendum to a public opinion poll." Coupal cited American Federation of Labor v. Eu as the basis for the lawsuit, noting, "If the people can’t do it, certainly the Legislature can’t do it, either."[49]

Derek Cressman, director of Yes on 49, responded, saying, "They are worried they can’t win this debate on substance so they are trying to prevent this debate from happening. It frankly looks like censorship."[4]

Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) has called for a judicial decision to be made before August 11, the day voter information guides go into print.[50]

Illinois

Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment (2014)

Unconstitutionality Lawsuit

On April 29, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to prevent the term limits measure, as well as the Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment, from being placed on the ballot. The suit, which will likely end up in the Illinois Supreme Court, was filed by a group of business and nonprofit leaders. It alleges that placing term limits on legislators is unconstitutional. In 1994, the state supreme court struck down a term limits measure in a 4-3 decision. Supporters of the measures were anticipating legal challenges and felt confident that their respective measures would make the 2014 ballot. Mark Campbell of the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, said, "Illinois citizens across all spectrums are demanding change in Springfield and want a return to real public service by citizen legislators and an end to the era of career politicians in Springfield." According to the lawsuit, the formal complaint by the plaintiffs states the following:[13]

This taxpayer action seeks to restrain the expenditure of public funds to consider the propriety of two petitions proposing multiple amendments to the Legislative Article of the Illinois Constitution which should be enjoined because each of these proposed petitions fails to comply with the constitutional requirements of Section 3 of Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution for such amendments. One of the petitions (the "Term Limits Initiative") proposes amendments that are invalid for several reasons, most obvious that it imposes term limits on members of the Illinois General Assembly, which the Illinois Supreme Court already held to be an improper subject for amendments to Article IV.[14]

—Plaintiffs, [51]

Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment (2014)

Unconstitutionality Lawsuit

On April 29, 2014, a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to prevent the redistricting measure, as well as the Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment, from being placed on the ballot. The suit, which many thought would go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, was filed by a group of business and nonprofit leaders. Supporters of the measures were anticipating legal challenges and felt confident that their respective measures would make the 2014 ballot. Michael Kolenc, of "Yes for Independent Maps," said, "Our coalition is confident that the independent maps proposal meets the structural and procedural requirements to amend the Illinois Constitution. Legal experts across the state agree with our position." According to the lawsuit, the formal complaint by the plaintiffs stated the following:[13]

This taxpayer action seeks to restrain the expenditure of public funds to consider the propriety of two petitions proposing multiple amendments to the Legislative Article of the Illinois Constitution which should be enjoined because each of these proposed petitions fails to comply with the constitutional requirements of Section 3 of Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution for such amendments. [...] The other petition (the "Redistricting Initiative") is likewise invalid for several reasons, including that it contains not a single structural or procedural change to Article IV, and in fact reaches far beyond Article IV to impose new eligibility requirements on all legislative, executive and judicial branch officeholders.[14]

—Plaintiffs, [52]

Circulators

Michigan

Michigan Natural Resources Commission Referendum (2014)

Humane Society v. Johnson et al.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed a federal lawsuit with Judge Robert Cleland of the Eastern Michigan District Court. The groups asked the court to strike down a state statute requiring petition circulators to be residents of Michigan. Sherri Ferrell, a resident of Florida, desired to help circulate a petition for the referendum, but could not. She alleged, as did the appealing organizations, that her legal inability to do so infringes upon her free speech. The lawsuit stated, "Michigan’s state residency requirement for petition circulators severely restricts the abilities of non-Michigan-residents – including volunteer members of HSLF and Sherri Ferrell – to engage in core political speech in Michigan and to associate with the organizations and Michigan residents who support the initiatives." The lawsuit named Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R), Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) and Colleen Pero, chairperson of the Board of State Canvassers, as defendants.[53]

The ACLU deemed circulator residency requirements to be unconstitutional. They noted that similar laws have been recently struck down by federal judges.[54] The Local Initiative and Referendum Initiative, which is currently being circulated in Michigan, would eliminate residency requirements.

Judge Cleland dismissed the lawsuit on March 31, 2014 because the legislature passed a law, known as House Bill 5152, that allows for out-of-state circulators on March 27, 2014. Cleland said, "It appears to the court that, upon the Governor’s anticipated approval, the Plaintiffs’ case will become moot. In view of this impending change in the law, the parties have agreed to dismiss this matter."[55]

Deadlines

California

California Referendum on AB 1266, Transgender Student Participation Based on Gender Identity (2014)

Gina Gleason vs. Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen, the California Secretary of State, said that about 5,000 signatures submitted in Mono County and Tulare County on Tuesday, November 12 were filed after the November 10 deadline. Those attempting to qualify the referendum for the ballot filed a lawsuit against that decision by Bowen. In early January 2014, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, Allen Sumner, ruled against Bowen and said that the signatures must be accepted. The reason for this is that November 10 was a Sunday, and November 11 was Veteran's Day, a holiday, and the election offices in the two counties were closed. The judge wrote, "Ever since the voters enacted the referendum power in 1911, courts have liberally construed its provisions to protect the voters' power. The fact that the deadline for submitting petitions falls on a weekend preceding a holiday, or the county registrar closes a noon on Friday, should not prevent Petitioner from having her petition signatures accepted."[7]

Fiscal summary

Missouri

Missouri Campaign Contributions Cap Amendment (2014)

Rex Sinquefield v. Jason Kander

Rex Sinquefield, a retired financier and frequent contributor to campaigns and candidates in Missouri, filed a lawsuit to block the Campaign Contributions Cap Amendment from appearing on the 2014 ballot.[20]

Sinquefield and lobbyist Travis Brown were both listed as plaintiffs. They claimed that "the initiative doesn’t adequately measure the financial impact of the amendment, unfairly restricts free speech and freedom of association and contains unfair language that could manipulate voters." Brown told the Missouri Times, "This ultimately is about freedom of expression and speech. An individual should have the right to express themselves by support or opposition to a candidate or committee." Sec. of State Jason Kander responded, saying he believed the language of the measure would be upheld in court. Courts have historically struck down attempts to limit campaign contributions, saying that the ability to donate money to campaigns and candidates is a form of free expression, which is protected by the first amendment.[20]

Labor practices

Motivation of sponsors

Post-certification removal

Redistricting

Single-subject rule

Signature challenges

Voter guide

NOTE: The following tab shows a list of lawsuits, by state, that were filed in 2014 against past ballot measures.

California

Measure B (condoms)

Kayden Kross, a co-plaintiff in the federal lawsuit to overturn Measure B

A federal lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court for the Central District of California on January 11, 2014 that seeks to have the federal court overturn Measure B, the Los Angeles Porn Actors Required to Wear Condoms Act. The lawsuit was filed by porn production company Vivid Entertainment. Porn stars Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs.[56]

Paul Cambria is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. He said, "You don’t have to win an Oscar to be protected by the First Amendment."

The lawsuit says that Measure B should be overturned for several reasons. Those reasons include:

  • It violates the First Amendment by imposing an unconstitutional prior restraint on freedom of expression.
  • It attempts to regulate an area (public health) which should exclusively be regulated by state law.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored Measure B, expressed confidence that the lawsuit would fail. Tom Myers, an attorney for the group, said, "Despite what the adult industry’s lawyers are claiming in this lawsuit, Measure B is not directed at speech and as such their First Amendment claims will likely ring hollow with the court."[56]

Measure L (parcel tax)

A lawsuit was filed against Measure L, the San Leandro Unified School District parcel tax enacted in November 2012 in January 2014 on grounds similar to those in Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District.[57]

Lawsuits were also filed in January 2014 against:

All the lawsuits were filed by David Brillant, the Walnut Creek attorney who successfully argued Borikas.[58]

NOTE: This tab includes lawsuits filed against proposed 2014 local ballot measures. Ballotpedia tracks local ballot measures, and includes local lawsuits that are found across news reports. To inform Ballotpedia of a local lawsuit near you, contact ballotmeasures@ballotpedia.org.
No ballot measure lawsuits have been filed in 2014. Any information on ballot measure lawsuits can be sent to Al Ortiz, Assistant Project Director of Ballot Measures.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Alaska Public Media, "Ruling on Hughes vs. Treadwell et al.," June 23, 2014
  2. Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court rules in favor of Bristol Bay ballot measure," June 24, 2014
  3. Mondaq, "Tribe Files Suit To Block California Compact Referendum," March 11, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Sacramento Bee, "Lawsuit: Citizens United measure should be tossed off ballot," July 22, 2014
  5. Los Angeles Times, "Anti-tax group sues to kick Citizens United advisory measure off ballot," July 22, 2014
  6. The Fresno Bee, "Anti-tax group sues over Citizens United measure," July 22, 2014
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named jan
  8. The Sacramento Bee, “Public pension measure likely off the 2014 ballot,” January 30, 2014
  9. San Jose Mercury News, “California pensions: San Jose mayor's initiative may not make November ballot,” January 30, 2014
  10. Reuters, "Democrats feud over California pension reform measure," February 3, 2014
  11. San Jose Mercury, "San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed loses statewide pension reform ballot challenge," March 14, 2014
  12. Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, "Charles R. "Chuck" Reed, et al. v. Debra Brown, et al.," accessed March 18, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Crain's Chicago Business, "Lawsuit fights Illinois term limits, remap moves," April 30, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  15. Scribd.com, "Remap, term limits lawsuit," accessed May 14, 2014
  16. Scribd.com, "Remap, term limits lawsuit," accessed May 14, 2014
  17. MLive, "Wolf hunt opponents challenging Michigan law on collecting signatures for ballot questions," February 10, 2014
  18. Washington Times, "Mich. sued over residency rule in petition drives," February 10, 2014
  19. MLive, "Judge dismisses ballot proposal suit after Michigan Legislature OKs out-of-state petition circulators," April 1, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 The Missouri Times, "Sinquefield takes fight over proposed campaign finance reform amendment to court," August 14, 2013
  21. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, “Petition Challenging the Legal Sufficiency of LR-126”, accessed January 27, 2014
  22. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Public View Docket," accessed January 27, 2014
  23. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Response/Objection - Petition for Write (Attorney General)," accessed January 27, 2014
  24. Missoulian, "Montana Supreme Court OKs voter registration referendum," February 5, 2014
  25. Helena Independent Reporter, "Referendum to end Election Day voter registration stays on ballot," February 6, 2014
  26. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, “Brief - Petitioners' Opening Brief”, accessed January 27, 2014
  27. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Attorney General's Brief Opposing the Petition Challenging the Legal Sufficiency of LR-17," accessed January 27, 2014
  28. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named removal
  29. The Montana Standard, "MT Supreme Court asked to block Charter initiative from ballot," May 14, 2014
  30. Helen Independent Record, "AG: I-172 meets legal sufficiency for ballot," May 20, 2014
  31. Billings Gazette, "Montana Supreme Court rejects union's attempt to block I-172," May 27, 2014
  32. The Sacramento Bee, “Public pension measure likely off the 2014 ballot,” January 30, 2014
  33. San Jose Mercury News, “California pensions: San Jose mayor's initiative may not make November ballot,” January 30, 2014
  34. Reuters, "Democrats feud over California pension reform measure," February 3, 2014
  35. San Jose Mercury, "San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed loses statewide pension reform ballot challenge," March 14, 2014
  36. Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, "Charles R. "Chuck" Reed, et al. v. Debra Brown, et al.," accessed March 18, 2014
  37. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, “Petition Challenging the Legal Sufficiency of LR-126”, accessed January 27, 2014
  38. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Public View Docket," accessed January 27, 2014
  39. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Response/Objection - Petition for Write (Attorney General)," accessed January 27, 2014
  40. Missoulian, "Montana Supreme Court OKs voter registration referendum," February 5, 2014
  41. Helena Independent Reporter, "Referendum to end Election Day voter registration stays on ballot," February 6, 2014
  42. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, “Brief - Petitioners' Opening Brief”, accessed January 27, 2014
  43. Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, "Attorney General's Brief Opposing the Petition Challenging the Legal Sufficiency of LR-17," accessed January 27, 2014
  44. The Montana Standard, "MT Supreme Court asked to block Charter initiative from ballot," May 14, 2014
  45. Helen Independent Record, "AG: I-172 meets legal sufficiency for ballot," May 20, 2014
  46. Billings Gazette, "Montana Supreme Court rejects union's attempt to block I-172," May 27, 2014
  47. Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court rules in favor of Bristol Bay ballot measure," June 24, 2014
  48. Mondaq, "Tribe Files Suit To Block California Compact Referendum," March 11, 2014
  49. Los Angeles Times, "Anti-tax group sues to kick Citizens United advisory measure off ballot," July 22, 2014
  50. The Fresno Bee, "Anti-tax group sues over Citizens United measure," July 22, 2014
  51. Scribd.com, "Remap, term limits lawsuit," accessed May 14, 2014
  52. Scribd.com, "Remap, term limits lawsuit," accessed May 14, 2014
  53. MLive, "Wolf hunt opponents challenging Michigan law on collecting signatures for ballot questions," February 10, 2014
  54. Washington Times, "Mich. sued over residency rule in petition drives," February 10, 2014
  55. MLive, "Judge dismisses ballot proposal suit after Michigan Legislature OKs out-of-state petition circulators," April 1, 2014
  56. 56.0 56.1 Toronto Sun, "Porn producer sues to overturn Los Angeles condom law," January 12, 2014
  57. San Leandro Patch, "Lawsuit Challenges Measure L, San Leandro's 'Split Roll' School Parcel Tax," January 28, 2014
  58. 58.0 58.1 Contra Costa Tiimes, "San Leandro, West Contra Costa schools and others sued over parcel taxes," February 1, 2014

See also