Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger
Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger is the name of a lawsuit filed in 1998 against North Dakota's law restricting paid circulators. The plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit were the Initiative & Referendum Institute, U.S. Term Limits, John Michael, Ralph Muecke, Americans for Sound Public Policy, and Progressive Campaigns, Inc.. The lawsuit was filed against North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger.
The lawsuit was unsuccessful. An appeal of the original judgment to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals was also unsuccessful.
The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgement to have two provisions of North Dakota's law declared null and void as violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The two provisions that were challenged were:
- A provision requiring that petition circulators be residents of North Dakota. (See Residency requirements for petition circulators). This provision had been added to the North Dakota Constitution in 1979.
- A provision prohibiting initiative sponsors from paying circulators on a "per-signature" basis. This statute was adopted by the North Dakota legislature in 1987.
The challenged law, N.D. Cent. Code §16.1-01-12(11), stated in part:
“It is unlawful for a person to…[p]ay or offer to pay any person, or receive payment or agree to receive payment, on a basis related to the number of signatures obtained for circulating an initiative, referendum, or recall petition. This subsection does not prohibit the payment of salary and expenses for circulation of the petition on a basis not related to the number of signatures obtained, as long as the circulators file their intent to remunerate prior to submitting the petitions…”
The Eighth Circuit upheld the original ruling, saying that, "As the state has a compelling interest in preventing fraud and the regulation does not unduly restrict speech, we conclude that the residency requirement is constitutional."
In addressing North Dakota's residency requirement, the court maintained that the law did not unconstitutionally infringe on core first amendment rights because:
"Many alternative means remain to non-residents who wish to communicate their views on initiative measures."