Writing:Ballot measure lawsuits
If a ballot measure is under litigation, the lawsuit section in a ballot measure article should include the following:
- The section title, called "Lawsuit" or "Lawsuits."
- The date that the lawsuit was filed.
- The listed defendants and plaintiffs in the case.
- The reason behind the filing of the lawsuit (constitutionality, petition fraud, etc.)
- The court that the lawsuit was filed with.
- Quotes from both sides of the lawsuit.
- At least two references, complete in Ballotpedia's citation standards.
Note: Lawsuit sections contain arguments, both written and informal, about the impacts of the targeted ballot measure. They do not reflect the opinions of Ballotpedia. Therefore, when writing about arguments or accusations, phrases such as "allegedly," "reportedly," "supporters/opponents say" or "according to reports" must be included. For example:
- "The lawsuit was filed because opponents claim that the measure allegedly violates the state constitution. According to reports, Mary Williams, who is spearheading the litigation, the proposal infringes on the rights of citizens in the state. The measure could also have a negative impact on the struggling economy, opponents say."
When the ruling has been handed down, the section should include:
- The ruling of the measure. This will include if the measure can stay on the ballot, be stricken from the ballot, or a decision will be made after the election, among other possibilities.
- What judge ruled on the measure and what day the ruling was handed down.
- A quote from the ruling, either a spoken quote from the judge, the written ruling, or both.
- Reaction from both sides of the lawsuit, if available.
Lawsuit rulings may sometimes be appealed to higher courts. In this case, the following steps must be taken:
- A subsection must be included entitled "Appeal." If later, another other appeals are filed, this section will then change to "First appeal."
- The date of the appeal must be included in the section.
- The presiding judge must be included.
- All subsequent rulings with quotes from ruling and both sides must be included, if available.
When creating a Lawsuit section in a ballot measure article, wiki-links to other pages on Ballotpedia are also required where they can be applied. Wiki-links to court pages should also be applied as well. Wiki-links could include officials who are listed as plaintiffs or defendants, the date of the filing, judges or other key figures who have a page on Ballotpedia. The following are example sentences containing appropriate wiki-links and how they appear on the edit box:
- The lawsuit against the measure was filed with the Arizona Supreme Court
The lawsuit against the measure was filed with the [[Arizona Supreme Court]]
- Hinds County Justice Court heard the case...
[[Hinds County Justice Court, Mississippi|Hinds County Justice Court]] heard the case...
- ...with presiding judge Jimmy Morton ruling in favor of the measure.
...with [[Jimmy Morton|presiding judge Jimmy Morton]] ruling in favor of the measure.
- On October 2, 2011, a lawsuit was filed against the measure by...
On [[BC2011#October|October 2, 2011]], a lawsuit was filed against the measure by...
- The Oregon Secretary of State was listed as one of the defendants in the case.
The [[Oregon Secretary of State]] was listed as one of the defendants in the case.
The following is an example of what the section could look like after all information is obtained.
In a statement, McDuff said, "This lawsuit is brought to preserve Mississippi's Bill of Rights. This Initiative specifically attempts to modify the Mississippi Bill of Rights by changing the word "person" to include a fertilized egg. Like the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, the Mississippi constitution states that 'the initiative process shall not be used...for the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the bill of rights of this constitution.'" McDuff argued that the change could lead to government interference in the doctor-patient relationship and could have lead to numerous lawsuits against physicians. Steve Crampton, an attorney for the Liberty Counsel who helped circulate petitions for the proposed measure, said the McDuffs arguments were "speculative."
In response to the lawsuit, Personhood Mississippi's Les Riley, the sponsor of the amendment, said, "This is clearly a preposterous lawsuit, intended to interfere with Mississippi citizens’ right to vote, and to protect Planned Parenthood’s abortion cash cow. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are seeking to protect Planned Parenthood’s one billion dollar a year profit, while Mississippi voters are seeking to protect innocent life. We intend to fight this suit, defending our rights as Mississippi voters and the most basic right of preborn children, the right to life."
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the defendant in the case, said he supported the proposed amendment. In reaction to the lawsuit, Hosemann said, "I believe Mississippians do have the right to amend their laws and the constitution by the initiative process followed by an open vote of the electorate. I think that’s what the Legislature intended." Attorney General Jim Hood defended the state in the lawsuit.
On October 26, 2010 a Hinds County judge cleared the measure for the 2011 ballot. Judge Malcolm Harrison ruled that the initiative should appear on the ballot because supporters collected the required signatures and the constitution recognizes the right of citizens to change the state constitution.
According to Keith Mason, of Personhood USA, about the appeal: "Of course we expect Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to continue their unholy alliance in attacking personhood bills and amendments. They are terrified that abortion will be made illegal. Planned Parenthood, with the help of the ACLU, is fighting for their ‘right’ to kill children for profit.”
Other pages and templates
The lawsuit template should be included in the section of the article. The template should be relevant to the election year that article will appear. For example, for a 2012 ballot measure that has been subject to litigation, the following template code should be installed in the section:
The template will show up on the right side of the page, as seen on the following ballot measure article:
When adding a Lawsuit section to a ballot measure article, an excerpt of that section must be placed on an additional page on Ballotpedia. The page is:
- "List of ballot measure lawsuits in YEAR" (Example: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012)
For the List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012 (and other years) page, place a small excerpt summarizing the lawsuit against the measure under the appropriate state. For the 2012 ballot measure litigation (and other years) page, place a small excerpt summarizing the lawsuit against the measure under the appropriate lawsuit type section (constitutionality, signature fraud, etc.). Wiki-linking to the ballot measure article should also be included.
- WLBT, "Lawsuit filed against state targets "Personhood" initiative," July 15, 2010
- One News Now, "Vote on 'personhood' faces challenge," June 19, 2010
- Associated Press, "Suit seeks to block Miss. ‘personhood’ initiative," July 16, 2010
- MarorityinMS.com, "Personhood Miss. Responds To Lawsuit," July 16, 2010
- WJTV, "Controversial Anti-Abortion Initiative On Next Year’s Ballot," October 26, 2010
- Clarion Ledger, "Judge OKs Mississippi anti-abortion initiative for '11 ballots," October 26, 2010
- Christian Newswire, "Planned Parenthood Ignores Fetal Pain; Goes After Personhood Amendments," April 21, 2011
- Florida Independent, "Legal challenge to Mississippi ‘Personhood’ amendment maybe headed to state Supreme Court," April 22, 2011