Court cases with an impact on the initiative process

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Judicial rulings have probed most aspects of the initiative process, with a considerable body of rulings around some specific parts of the process.

Distribution requirements

Petitioner access

These lawsuits pertain to where a circulator is allowed to stand when soliciting signatures on an initiative (or candidate) petition from a member of the public. There is considerable overlap between cases concerning where petitioners can stand to ask for signatures, and cases concerning where political leafletters can stand to pass out political leaflets or brochures.[1] The first known lawsuit governing political expression on private property occurred in 1946, when Supreme Court held that the owners and operators of a company town could not prohibit the distribution of religious literature in the town's business district because such expression was protected by the First and 14th amendments.[2]

Cases about petitioner access fall into two main categories:

Circulators collecting signatures on public property

Circulators collecting signatures on private property

Rulings in favor of private property rights against petitioners

Rulings in favor of petitioners or leafletters

Rulings that establish what a "reasonable limitation" is

Residency requirements

Ongoing

Rulings that invalidate residency requirements

Rulings that uphold residency requirements

Rulings that invalidate voter registration requirements

  • In Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Colorado law requiring that petition circulators be registered voters in the political jurisdiction in which signatures are being solicited. The primary reason offered for this ruling is that requiring petition circulators to be registered voters (and, by extension, residents) of the political subdivision in which they are collecting signatures reduces the pool of those available to collect signatures which, in turn, reduces the quantum of political speech available.

Single-subject rule

Rulings invalidating initiatives

Rulings upholding initiatives

Rulings on single-subject constitutionality

  • Campbell v. Buckley. An unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado's single-subject rule.

Superseding initiatives

See also

References