Difference between revisions of "List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012"

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{{TOC maker|1H=By state
 
{{TOC maker|1H=By state
 
|1.1=Arizona
 
|1.1=Arizona
|1.1.1=Public Election Funding Ban Amendment
+
|1.1.1=Arizona Public Election Funding Ban Amendment (2012)
|1.1.2=Sales Tax Renewal Amendment
+
|1.1.2=Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment (2012)
|1.1.3=“Open Government Act” Initiative
+
|1.1.3=Arizona "Open Government Act" Initiative (2012)
 
|1.2=California
 
|1.2=California
|1.2.1= “Paycheck Protection” Initiative
+
|1.2.1=California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)
|1.2.2=Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts Initiative
+
|1.2.2=California Proposition 33, Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts (2012)
|1.2.3=End the Death Penalty Initiative
+
|1.2.3=California Proposition 34, the End the Death Penalty Initiative (2012)
|1.2.4=Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery Initiative
+
|1.2.4=California Proposition 35, Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery (2012)
|1.2.5=Mandatory Labeling of GMO Food Initiative
+
|1.2.5=California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)
 
|1.3=Colorado
 
|1.3=Colorado
|1.3.1=Marijuana Legalization Initiative
+
|1.3.1=Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2012)
|1.3.2="Personhood" Amendment
+
|1.3.2=Colorado Personhood Amendment (2012)
 
|1.4=Florida
 
|1.4=Florida
|1.4.1=Religious Freedom Amendment
+
|1.4.1=Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 8 (2012)
 
|1.5=Maryland
 
|1.5=Maryland
|1.5.1=In-State Tuition Referendum
+
|1.5.1=Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (2012)
 
|1.6=Massachusetts  
 
|1.6=Massachusetts  
|1.6.1=Public Schools Initiative
+
|1.6.1=Massachusetts Public Schools Initiative (2012)
|1.6.2=“Death with Dignity” Initiative
+
|1.6.2=Massachusetts "Death with Dignity" Initiative (2012)
|1.6.3=Medical Marijuana Initiative
+
|1.6.3=Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (2012)
 
|1.7=Michigan
 
|1.7=Michigan
|1.7.1=Emergency Manager Referendum
+
|1.7.1=Michigan Emergency Manager Referendum (2012)
|1.7.2=Casino Gaming Amendment
+
|1.7.2=Michigan Casino Gaming Amendment (2012)
|1.7.3=“Protect Our Jobs” Amendment
+
|1.7.3=Michigan "Protect Our Jobs" Amendment (2012)
 
|1.8=Missouri
 
|1.8=Missouri
|1.8.1=Minimum Wage Initiative
+
|1.8.1=Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)
|1.8.2=Income Tax Replacement Initiative
+
|1.8.2=Missouri Income Tax Replacement Initiative (2012)
|1.8.3=Municipal Police Amendment
+
|1.8.3=Missouri Municipal Police Amendment (2012)
|1.8.4=Voter ID Amendment
+
|1.8.4=Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2012)
|1.8.5=Public Prayer Amendment
+
|1.8.5=Missouri Public Prayer Amendment (August 2012)
|1.8.6=Payday Loan Initiative
+
|1.8.6=Missouri Payday Loan Initiative (2012)
|1.8.7=Judicial Appointment Amendment
+
|1.8.7=Missouri Judicial Appointment Amendment (2012)
 
|1.9=Montana
 
|1.9=Montana
|1.9.1=Supreme Court Elections Question
+
|1.9.1=Montana Supreme Court Elections Question (June 2012)
|1.9.2=Taxpayer Dividend Measure
+
|1.9.2=Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure (2012)
|1.9.3=Corporate Contributions Initiative
+
|1.9.3=Montana Corporate Contributions Initiative, I-166 (2012)
|1.9.4=Proof of Citizenship Question
+
|1.9.4=Montana Proof of Citizenship Question, LR-121 (2012)
|1.9.5=Parental Notification Measure
+
|1.9.5=Montana Parental Notification Measure, LR-120 (2012)
 
|1.10=Nevada
 
|1.10=Nevada
|1.10.1=Harrah’s Sports Arena Initiative
+
|1.10.1=Nevada Harrah's Sports Arena Initiative (2012)
|1.10.2=Mining Tax Cap Amendment
+
|1.10.2=Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment (2012)
|1.10.3=Casino Tax Amendment
+
|1.10.3=Nevada Casino Tax Amendment (2012)
 
|1.11=North Dakota
 
|1.11=North Dakota
|1.11.1=“Fighting Sioux” Referendum
+
|1.11.1=North Dakota University "Fighting Sioux" Referendum, Measure 4 (June 2012)
|1.11.2=Property Tax Amendment
+
|1.11.2=North Dakota Property Tax Amendment, Measure 2 (June 2012)
 
|1.12=Ohio
 
|1.12=Ohio
|1.12.1=“Personhood” Initiative
+
|1.12.1=Ohio "Personhood" Initiative (2013)
|1.12.2=Same-Sex Marriage Amendment
+
|1.12.2=Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2012)
|1.12.3=Redistricting Amendment
+
|1.12.3=Ohio Redistricting Amendment (2012)
 
|1.13=Oklahoma
 
|1.13=Oklahoma
|1.13.1=“Personhood” Amendment
+
|1.13.1=Oklahoma "Personhood" Amendment (2012)
 
|1.14=Oregon
 
|1.14=Oregon
|1.14.1=Studded Tire Ban Initiative
+
|1.14.1=Oregon Studded Tire Ban Initiative (2012)
 
|1.15=Rhode Island
 
|1.15=Rhode Island
|1.15.1=Casino Gambling Amendment
+
|1.15.1=Rhode Island Casino Gambling Amendment (2012)
 
|2H=By topic
 
|2H=By topic
 
|2.1=Ballot text
 
|2.1=Ballot text

Revision as of 11:13, 6 February 2014

[edit]

Portal:Ballot Measure Law
NOTE: The following tab shows a list of lawsuits, by state, that were filed against statewide ballot measures aiming for the 2012 ballot. Click the "show" link to read about specifics of a particular lawsuit.

Arizona

Arizona Public Election Funding Ban Amendment (2012)

Contents
1 By state
1.1 Arizona
1.1.1 Arizona Public Election Funding Ban Amendment (2012)
1.1.2 Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment (2012)
1.1.3 Arizona "Open Government Act" Initiative (2012)
1.2 California
1.2.1 California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)
1.2.2 California Proposition 33, Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts (2012)
1.2.3 California Proposition 34, the End the Death Penalty Initiative (2012)
1.2.4 California Proposition 35, Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery (2012)
1.2.5 California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)
1.3 Colorado
1.3.1 Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2012)
1.3.2 Colorado Personhood Amendment (2012)
1.4 Florida
1.4.1 Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 8 (2012)
1.5 Maryland
1.5.1 Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (2012)
1.6 Massachusetts
1.6.1 Massachusetts Public Schools Initiative (2012)
1.6.2 Massachusetts "Death with Dignity" Initiative (2012)
1.6.3 Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (2012)
1.7 Michigan
1.7.1 Michigan Emergency Manager Referendum (2012)
1.7.2 Michigan Casino Gaming Amendment (2012)
1.7.3 Michigan "Protect Our Jobs" Amendment (2012)
1.8 Missouri
1.8.1 Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)
1.8.2 Missouri Income Tax Replacement Initiative (2012)
1.8.3 Missouri Municipal Police Amendment (2012)
1.8.4 Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2012)
1.8.5 Missouri Public Prayer Amendment (August 2012)
1.8.6 Missouri Payday Loan Initiative (2012)
1.8.7 Missouri Judicial Appointment Amendment (2012)
1.9 Montana
1.9.1 Montana Supreme Court Elections Question (June 2012)
1.9.2 Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure (2012)
1.9.3 Montana Corporate Contributions Initiative, I-166 (2012)
1.9.4 Montana Proof of Citizenship Question, LR-121 (2012)
1.9.5 Montana Parental Notification Measure, LR-120 (2012)
1.10 Nevada
1.10.1 Nevada Harrah's Sports Arena Initiative (2012)
1.10.2 Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment (2012)
1.10.3 Nevada Casino Tax Amendment (2012)
1.11 North Dakota
1.11.1 North Dakota University "Fighting Sioux" Referendum, Measure 4 (June 2012)
1.11.2 North Dakota Property Tax Amendment, Measure 2 (June 2012)
1.12 Ohio
1.12.1 Ohio "Personhood" Initiative (2013)
1.12.2 Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2012)
1.12.3 Ohio Redistricting Amendment (2012)
1.13 Oklahoma
1.13.1 Oklahoma "Personhood" Amendment (2012)
1.14 Oregon
1.14.1 Oregon Studded Tire Ban Initiative (2012)
1.15 Rhode Island
1.15.1 Rhode Island Casino Gambling Amendment (2012)
2 By topic
2.1 Ballot text
2.2 Campaign contributions
2.3 Constitutionality
2.4 Circulators
2.5 Fiscal summary
2.6 Labor practices
2.7 Motivation of sponsors
2.8 Post-certification removal
2.9 Redistricting
2.10 Single-subject rule
2.11 Signature challenges
2.12 Voter guide
3 Past measures
3.1 California
3.1.1 Marsy’s Law Initiative (2008)
3.1.2 Citizens Redistricting Commission Initiative (2008)
3.1.3 Affirmative Action Initiative (1996)
4 Local
4.1 California

Arizona Advocacy Network v. Bennett

On May 6, 2011, elected officials and future potential candidates in the state filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court attempting to block the measure from being placed on the ballot. Attorney for the plaintiffs, Paul Eckstein, stated that the language of the measure constitutionally bars government agencies from spending public funds for "campaign support." This is a term that is ambiguously referred to, according to Eckstein. He argued that this could lead to that phrase being interpreted as disallowing direct contributions to political races and also banning daily operations of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Eckstein pointed out that this could mean that the measure violates the state's single-subject rule.[1]

This argument was the primary one that the attorney put forth. Eckstein contended that if the measure is approved by voters, it would repeal a separate program in Tucson where political candidates can ultimately obtain public money. Eckstein stated, "This question presents a subject that should be decided by voters separately."

Jonathan Paton, who was a proponent of the measure, claimed about the lawsuit, "It sounds pretty obvious they don't want to face us in November on the ballot because they know they're going to lose."

Hearing

On October 17, 2011, the measure was heard in Maricopa County Superior Court, where arguments were given regarding the measure. According to Sam Wercinski of the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, who was against the repeal of the Clean Elections law: “This is really about big money in Arizona trying to repeal an anti-corruption law because they want to control through campaign contributions who gets to run, who gets elected and how tax cuts are given."

Jonathan Payton, who wanted the measure to stay on the ballot, argued: “It’s wrong to give money to people to buy junk mail and yard signs."

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink stated: "This is local taxpayer funds designated for one purpose becoming part of the state’s general fund. But I’m concerned about the city’s money potentially being taken away.”[2]

Ruling

Judge Fink ruled on October 26, 2011 that the proposed partial repeal of the "Clean Elections Act" be taken off the ballot, stating that it violates the state's single subject rule. An appeal did not occur.[3][4]

The court's ruling can be found here.

Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment (2012)

Ann-Eve Pederson v. Secretary of State Ken Bennett

On June 28, 2012, Quality Education and Jobs Committee filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, claiming that their signatures were valid and that their proposal should have been placed on the ballot. The initiative was previously disqualified by Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) because ballot language on circulating petitions was different from language that the secretary's office had on file. According to supporters of the initiative, differences between the circulated text and the official text was a "hyper-technicality." Supporters argued that the circulated text was "substantially" the same.[5]

Judge Robert Oberbillig scheduled July 18, 2012 as the date for the hearing.[6]

On that same day, Oberbillig ruled that Secretary Bennett should not have refused to process the petitions. The judge ruled that the measure be placed on the November ballot. According to Oberbillig, proponents of the initiative gave Bennett the correct version of the petition and that there was no evidence that those who signed the petition were misled.[7]

Secretary of State Ken Bennett filed an appeal of the ruling, insisting that proponents of the initiative did not comply with state law. Bennett hired an expert in elections law to spearhead the appeal. Bennett stated, "To leave the lower court ruling in place I think risks huge voter confusion, huge confusion with our offices and other filing offices as far as how we're supposed to process these initiatives."[8]

However, that appeal failed as the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the measure be placed on the ballot. According to the high court, the text on the petition complied with state election law.[9]

Arizona "Open Government Act" Initiative (2012)

Maricopa County Court Case

On July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with Maricopa County Superior Court aimed at blocking the measure from the ballot. The lawsuit against the measure was filed by opponents of the measure, who were represented by Attorney Michael Liburdi. Liburdi claimed the initiative had "a legion of unintended consequences." Liburdi said that the proposal violates the state's single-subject rule.[10]

The initiative's campaign spokesman Joe Yuhas said the lawsuit would fail because the residents who signed the petition were entitled to have a say on the measure.

Arguments were heard during the week of July 30, 2012.[11]

On August 6, 2012, the court ruled that the measure should not be placed on the ballot because a provision in the measure violated the state's single-subject law.[12]

Judge Mark Brain stated that there was no reason why a prohibition on public funding for party activities should be included in the initiative.

The Open Government Committee, who supported the initiative, appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on August 7, 2012. On August 17, 2012, the high court ruled, without comment, that the measure be placed on the ballot, if enough signatures were found to be collected by the petition drive, which they were.[13][14]

Open Government Committee v. Ken Bennett

On August 24, 2012, a lawsuit was filed by the Open Government Committee after Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office disqualified more than 100,000 signatures on initiative petitions leading to the measure's exclusion from the 2012 ballot.

Supporters of the measure stated that the secretary's office used an incorrect formula to calculate the results of the random sample and that Maricopa County officials invalidated signatures that should have been counted.

A hearing occurred on August 28, 2012.

A counter lawsuit was filed by opponents of the measure asking for the measure to be kept off of the ballot.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea ruled on August 31, 2012 that the measure be placed on the ballot.[15]

However, challengers stated they wanted another two hours to make their case in court. Attorney Mike Liburdi told the Arizona Supreme Court on September 4, 2012 that he was "cut off" by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea in the middle of his arguments. According to Liburdi, "Given the magnitude of the controversy -- a proposed constitutional amendment that will fundamentally change the manner in which public officers are elected -- it was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion not to provide (challengers) with more time to present their case."[16]

The Arizona Supreme Court finally made a ruling on the case on September 7, 2012 allowing the measure to appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot.[17]

Arkansas

Arkansas Casino Amendment (2012)

Michael Wasserman's challenge

On August 3, 2012, Michael Wasserman, sponsor of one of the two proposed casino amendments, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court stating that elections officials should have given him more time to collect additional signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. Previously, Wasserman's petition drive did not collect enough valid signatures by the petition drive deadline in early July 2012.[18]

It's not unprecedented for the Arkansas Secretary of State to allow additional time for initiative organizers to collect signatures, however, reports said that Wasserman didn't meet a requirement that signatures from at least 15 counties equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's election.

The lawsuit argued that the 15-county rule should not apply since the campaign turned in more than 78,133 signatures, although not all were valid.

On September 20, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the lawsuit's arguments, therefore denying Wasserman's request for more time to collect additional signatures. Wasserman's measure remained on the ballot for 2012, but votes were not counted[19]

Nancy Todd's challenge

On August 24, 2012, Nancy Todd, the supporter of the second initiative, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court over the rejection of her proposal by state election officials. Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's office rejected the revised wording that was submitted by supporters.

The lawsuit stated: "The secretary of state's threatened refusal to carry out this legal duty is a violation of his statutory obligations to the petitioners and the people and an abridgement of their rights under Amendment 7."[20]

However, on October 4, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that the measure's language was changed while signatures were being collected, deeming them invalid. The measure remained on the ballot, but votes were not counted.[21]

Arkansas Racing Alliance v. Nancy Todd

On September 18, 2012, the Arkansas Racing Alliance filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court to block Nancy Todd's ballot proposal.[22]

The lawsuit challenged the legitimacy of the signatures that supporters submitted to the secretary of state and the language of the measure. This was the second lawsuit that has been filed regarding Nancy Todd's proposal. Todd's proposal was subsequently rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question (2012)

Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values challenge

After verifying that supporters had turned in enough signatures, Arkansas election officials placed the measure on the fall ballot. But, a coalition of conservative groups called the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values filed a lawsuit against the measure with the Arkansas Supreme Court on August 31. The lawsuit asked that the measure either be stricken from the ballot or that votes for it not be counted. The coalition argued that initiative backers failed to inform voters that even if the measure was approved, medical marijuana users could face prosecution under federal law.[23]

According to reports and documents filed on September 5, 2012, the Arkansas Secretary of State requested that the court dismiss him from the lawsuit. This was not done, however.

The Arkansas Supreme Court stated on September 13, 2012, that it would not hear oral arguments from either side of the lawsuit. Justices denied the requests by both sides, which filed those requests the day before.[24]

On Thursday, September 27, the court ruled in favor of keeping the measure on the ballot. In response to the coalition's argument that the measure failed to properly inform voters, the court wrote, "We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring. Therefore, the act is proper for inclusion on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, and the petition is therefore denied."[25]

California

California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)

Ashlee Titus v. Debra Bowen

Ashlee Titus v. Debra Bowen was the lawsuit filed by Proposition 32 supporters. They asked the court to do two things; the court agreed with them on one request.[26]

  • First, Titus asked that the court change the state's official summary/label. The court agreed with this request.

The old ballot summary said:

"Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use restrictions to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees."

The new, court-ordered summary/label, with deleted text shown in strike-out text and added language shown in italics, says:

"Restricts Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use restrictions prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Restricts Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Limits Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.

The key change was to the consistent use of "prohibits," rather than "restricts." In their lawsuit, according to "Yes on 32" campaign spokesperson Jake Suski, the use of the word "restrict," which was the word chosen by the Attorney General of California, was misleading. Suski said, "Voters deserve to be informed that Prop. 32 doesn't just reduce direct contributions from corporations and unions to politicians, it eliminates them entirely."[27] After the lower court's ruling came out, Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California, went to a higher level court and filed a petition asking for immediate review of the lower court's decision. This request was denied.[28]

"Yes on 32" supporters made an additional request of the court. This second request was denied. This was a request to have the phrase "Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition" removed from the state's official materials.

Lou Paulson v. Debra Bowen

Lou Paulson v. Debra Bowen was the lawsuit filed by the "No on 32" campaign. Their request to the court was denied.[29]

The "No on 32" campaign's lawsuit challenged ballot language they believed might mislead voters about whether payroll deductions could still occur if a worker provided the state with written permission when in fact, under the provisions of Proposition 32, the state cannot engage in the practice of payroll deductions regardless of whether or not a worker gives permission.[27]

California Proposition 33, Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts (2012)

Sacramento County Superior Court lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 33 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court saying that the ballot title and summary provided by the Attorney General of California are inaccurate and misleading. The lawsuit also said that arguments opposing Proposition 33 submitted for the state's official voter guide by its opponents are inaccurate. The lawsuit asked that the title be changed, and that what supporters said are inaccurate arguments from opponents not be allowed into the voter guide.[30]

In the part of the lawsuit that sought to have the official ballot summary changed, supporters said, "The Ballot Label and Ballot Title and Summary prepared by the Attorney General for Proposition 33 contain inaccurate language that is highly likely to prejudice voters against the measure...Specifically, the Ballot Label and Ballot Title and Summary state that Proposition 33 changes current law to allow insurance companies to 'set prices.' This is not true. Under California law, insurance companies cannot simply set prices, and Proposition 33 will not change this fact." The lawsuit needed to be resolved before August 13, when the official voter guides go to press.[27]

In the part of the lawsuit that objected to arguments filed against Proposition 33 by its opponents, the lawsuit said that the anti-argument that said "Proposition 33 unfairly punishes anyone who stopped driving for a good reason but now needs insurance to get back behind the wheel" should be stricken from the voter guide in its entirety because, they said, this statement is "false and misleading."[27]

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley rejected the lawsuit. This rejection was described by Proposition 33 opponent Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog as a "total victory" for opponents.[31]

California Proposition 34, the End the Death Penalty Initiative (2012)

Superior Court Case

Supporters of Proposition 34 filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of Sacramento County seeking to change Proposition 34's official ballot title. Their lawsuit was rejected by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley.[27]

Opponents of Proposition 34 filed a lawsuit asking that part of the ballot argument in favor of Proposition 34 that was submitted by its supporters be changed in the official voter guide. This lawsuit was successful. Proposition 34 supporters wanted to say in their argument that Proposition 34 would "redirect" $100 million in general fund money to law enforcement from the savings that would be generated by the elimination of capital punishment. Superior Court Judge Frawley, however, agreed with Proposition 34 opponents that if $100 million were to be allocated out of the state's general fund money, this would be "unrelated to ... any savings achieved by Propostion 34." With that in mind, Frawley ordered the California Secretary of State to change the wording in that part of the argument from "redirect" to "direct."[27]

California Proposition 35, Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery (2012)

Ballot language lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 35 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on August 3, 2012. The lawsuit was successful. The purpose of the lawsuit was to force the California Secretary of State, in the Spanish-language version of the state's official voter guide, to replace the term "tráfico humano" with "trata de personas."[32]

Federal lawsuit

Immediately following the election, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court, asking that the court to stop from going into effect the provision which required convicted sex offenders to provide internet identifiers to law enforcement. They based the lawsuit on the grounds that the provision violated the United States Constitution.[33]

The day after the election, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevented the internet identifier provision from going into effect, and the temporary injunction was extended on January 11, 2013[34] The injunction applied only to the provision that requires convicted sex offenders to provide their internet identifiers to law enforcement. All other Proposition 35 provisions remained in effect.

The general thrust of the lawsuit was that the provision restricted the free speech and free association rights of registered sex offenders, particularly online. Two anonymous sex offenders were the plaintiffs in the "Joe Doe" lawsuit. One of them said in the suit that, because of the proposition, he would no longer be allowed to participate in online political discussions. The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation helped with the lawsuit because they believe that, when a registered sex offender is unable to participate in online political discussions without revealing his status as a registered sex offender, this amounts to an unconstitutional burden on the free speech and association rights of the sex offender.[34]

California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)

Analysis lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 37 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on August 9, 2012. The lawsuit was successful. The purpose of the lawsuit was to force the California Secretary of State to revise the state's "impartial analysis" of Proposition 37 that appeared in the state's official voter guide. The correction asked for by Proposition 37 supporters, and ordered by the court, amounted to the change of one word. Specifically, the court ordered that the word "some" replace the word "all" in this sentence: "Given the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions would be interpreted by the courts to apply to some processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered." (In the actual voter guide, the word some will not appear in underlined bold form.)[35]

Colorado

Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2012)

Bruce v. Colorado Title-Setting Board

A lawsuit was filed on July 11, 2011 against the proposed ballot measure, stating that the proposal does not make it clear that taxes would be raised. Douglas Bruce, of Colorado Springs, filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court.

However, Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado stated that the five-business day allowance to challenge the measure has already passed. A spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State claimed that since the ballot measure language was revised, the legal challenge could move forward.[36]

Blue book lawsuit

Proponents of the measure filed a lawsuit to delay the printing of 2012's ballot information booklet, also known as the blue book.

According to reports, the booklet was sent to voters in the state to provide details on ballot measures that are on the general election ballot. According to supporters of Amendment 64, the lawsuit argued that the legislative committee struck final draft key language in the section describing arguments in support of the initiative.[37]

However, on September 13, 2012, the lawsuit was dismissed by Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt due to what reports say was a "jurisdictional issue."[38]

Colorado Personhood Amendment (2012)

Durgin v. Lozano

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, requesting to block the measure's supporters from placing it on the ballot. The appeal was filed on January 9, 2012, weeks after the Colorado Title Board approved the language of the measure, and allowing for circulation of initiative petitions.[39]

On March 7, 2012, the state supreme court ruled that the measure could move forward with signature collection. The court ruled in a unanimous decision. Both sides of the measure chimed in, with Planned Parenthood, the group who filed the lawsuit, having spokeswoman Monica McCafferty state the following: "We are disappointed, but not surprised. We are gearing up for a third campaign. So far we've been successful in educating voters on how dangerous this measure is — restricting a woman's ability to make personal, private decisions about her own body."[40]

Attorney Gualberto Garcia Jones, who represented proponents Personhood Colorado: "The unanimous decision by the Colorado Supreme Court proved that there is no question that this is a single-subject issue and ready to go before the voters."

  • The ruling in the case can be found here.

Florida

Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 8 (2012)

Shapiro v. Browning

On July 20, 2011 the Florida Education Association (FEA) along with an inter-faith clergy group and some school administrators filed a lawsuit to block the proposed measure.[41] Also involved in the suit is Lee Swift, president of the Florida School Board Association, and Susan Summers-Persis, president of the Florida Association of School Administrators. Opponents argued that the measure's title and ballot summary are misleading. FEA described the proposed measure as an "underhanded attempt to legalize state tuition vouchers for private schools, including church-affiliated schools."[42] "This is designed to open up the state treasury to voucher schools, but that's not what the title of the amendment and the ballot summary say," said union president Andy Ford.[43]

Measure supporter Rep. Scott Plakon said, "They are trying to paint a picture that if this is repealed that the state is going to put a million dollar check in the offering of the Baptist Church and that is simply them being untruthful. All this does is make sure that our constitution does not treat people of faith differently than any others."[43]

In response, Rep. Scott Randolph said, "Throughout the 2011 legislative session, Republican legislators disguised the proposed constitutional amendment as one that would merely protect religious freedom and end religious discrimination. But in actuality, this proposal has one purpose: to allow the unlimited use of taxpayers’ money to send children to private schools instead of building a quality public school system."[44]

The filed lawsuit also challenged 2011 legislation that allowed for the Florida Attorney General's office to rewrite ballot summaries or titles after the Florida Supreme Court removed a certified measure from the statewide ballot. The lawsuit argued that authority for such a changes lies only in the Florida State Legislature.[45]

The lawsuit was heard on October 27, 2011.[46][47][48]

The case was heard by Judge Terry Lewis. The case (Shapiro v. Browning) number was 2011-CA-1892.

Court ruling

On December 14, 2011 Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled that the legislatively-proposed measure would no longer appear on the 2012 ballot. Specifically, Lewis ruled that the phrase "consistent with the U.S. Constitution" was ambiguous and misleading. The phrase, Lewis said, implied that it would make the Florida Constitution conform with the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment.[49]

The lawsuit also challenged 2011 legislation that allowed for the Florida Attorney General's office to rewrite ballot summaries or titles after Florida Supreme Court removed a certified measure from the statewide ballot. Lewis rejected that challenge. "The law under review does not, after all, give the Attorney General authority to re-write the amendment itself -- only the description of it," Lewis said.[49]

Because the 2011 state law was not overturned, the Florida Attorney General still maintained the authority to rewrite the proposal. This was done within 10 days, which was the allotted time to do so.

Measure re-written

On December 20, 2011, Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) rewrote the proposal, and therefore the measure was placed on the ballot for a second time.[49]

The new language of the proposal read: "Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."[50]

Despite new language, some argued that the measure remained misleading. Rabbi Merrill Shapiro of First Congregation Sons of Israel and the primary plaintiff in the case said that Amendment 7 would repeal provisions in the Florida Constitution to prohibit the use of public funds for religious institutions. However, Shapiro noted that the current ballot language did not make that clear.[51] Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said "the proposal continues to mislead voters by failing to inform them of the chief purpose and actual impact of the amendment – to virtually require taxpayer funding of religious activities of churches, mosques and synagogues."[52]. Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination said the amendment would ensure that time-honored social services provided by those motivated by faith will continue. [1]

In early January 2012 a lawyer for the education groups and clergy members said that they did not plan to pursue a legal challenge against the revised language.[53]

Maryland

Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (2012)

Doe v. Maryland State Board of Elections

On August 1, 2011 Casa de Maryland filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the proposed measure. The lawsuit argued that more than half of the collected petition signatures were collected illegally.[54]

Specifically, plaintiffs argued two points. The process of collecting signatures was ripe for fraud considering that signers used a website, MDPetitions.com, to download and print voter information. "If I know your birth date and where you live, your ZIP code, assuming you live in Maryland, I can put in your name, the computer program will print out a form with everybody’s name who lives in that household who is registered to vote. I can sign your name and have other people sign those other names, and no one would know the difference because the signatures aren’t checked against anything," said Joseph Sandler, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney working for Casa of Maryland.[55]

Neil Parrott, chairman of the petition group, said, "This fraud that they’re saying could exist has always existed in every petition drive. What they’re saying is there are not petitions that could exist in Maryland."[55]

Additionally, plaintiffs argued that the state tuition law cannot be subject to referendum because the Maryland Constitution prohibited referendums on laws that maintain or aid a public institution.[56]

On September 22, 2011 Judicial Watch announced it would represent the organizers of the petition drive. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "There is no question that the Maryland DREAM Act should be put to a referendum. The illegal immigration lobby simply wants to keep Maryland voters from having their say on the issue."[57]

A motions hearing was scheduled for the end of January.

On December 8, 2011 it was announced that the challenge against the petition signatures collected by MDPetitions.com was dropped. However, the challenge of whether the law was subject to veto referendum remained pending.[58]

Sandler, attorney working for Casa of Maryland, said, "This is exactly the kind of law that Maryland keeps off the ballot because it leads to disruption of Maryland programs, which is exactly what is happening here." In response to the continued challenge, Delegate Patrick McDonough, who helped lead the petition effort, said the act is not an appropriations bill because it does not set spending within the state budget. "We felt from the beginning that was their weakest argument. And it seems to me that it’s their last desperate position that they have," he said.[59]

A hearing was held on Friday, January 27, in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court before Judge Ronald A. Silkworth. At the hearing both sides asked Judge Silkworth to rule on the legal matters of the lawsuit without holding a trial, saying it is only the interpretation of the law that is being contested, not the facts of the case.[60]

On Friday, February 17, Judge Silkworth ruled that the Dream Act does, in fact, meet the requirements for legislation that can be subject to a referendum. According to the Maryland Constitution, fiscal appropriations are not subject to referendum, however, Judge Silkworth ruled that the costs of the bill are incidental and not its main intent.[61]

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Public Schools Initiative (2012)

Flynn, et al. v. Martha Coakley and William F. Galvin

A lawsuit, submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association with the Massachusetts Supreme Court, was filed on January 21, 2012 against the proposal. The lawsuit complained that the proposal was in violation of the state constitution because it dealt with too many components that are unrelated. The legal challenge would void Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's circulation certification, and therefore would not allow Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin to place it on the ballot.[62]

Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the attorney general, stated about the lawsuit and the initiative certification process: "We make our decision to certify ballot initiatives based purely on the facts and the law and without regard to the attorney general’s policy view on the issue. As we do with all petition decisions we work cooperatively with parties who wish to challenge our rulings. The most important thing is to get the right result."[63]

Massachusetts "Death with Dignity" Initiative (2012)

John Kelly et al vs. Martha Coakley

On May 17, 2012, over 60 Massachusetts voters, including members of the disability rights group Second Thoughts, filed a challenge before the Supreme Judicial Court against the measure, challenging the wording to the measure. On June 4, 2012, the claim was denied by Justice Cordy.[64]

According to John Kelly, director of the Second Thoughts group, and who was listed in the title of the lawsuit, "The ballot language is clearly misleading. We want the voters of Massachusetts to know exactly what they are voting on this November." The petition asked the Supreme Judicial Court to remand the language to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and Secretary of State William Galvin (D) with the requirement that they amend the language for clarity and accuracy. The measure was placed on the ballot despite the litigation.[65]

The case docket can be read here.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (2012)

Heidi Heilman et al v Attorney General and Secretary of the Commonwealth

In May 2012, The Massachusetts Prevention Alliance filed a petition to the state supreme judicial court requesting that the wording of the ballot question be changed. According to reports, the group claimed that the wording of the measure hid key provisions of the potential state statute. For example, the group argued that a network of dispensaries would be created to comply with the law, if enacted, but that this was not shown clearly by the wording.[66]

Shortly after, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley moved to dismiss the petition. According to the Attorney General's office, the petition did not offer a valid alternative way to write the ballot question.[66]

During the case hearings, associate justice on the state Supreme Judicial Court Robert Cordy was skeptical of the ballot measure's wording, indicating he was open to a re-writing of the proposal's language, asking the Attorney General, "If it was entitled, 'Medical use of cigarettes,' would you have a problem with that? What's your evidence there is a medical use of marijuana?"[67]

Around June 8, 2012, the supreme judicial court ruled in favor of the opponents who filed the lawsuit, stating that the measure's language was misleading. The court ruled that Coakley rewrite the ballot language.[68]

In a decision on July 2, 2012 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy approved newly rewritten language of the measure.

According to reports, the main part of the language that was rewritten was the "yes" statement reads that reads, "A yes vote would enact the proposed law eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers, or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use."[69]

The case docket can be read here.

Michigan

Michigan Emergency Manager Referendum (2012)

Stand Up for Democracy v. Michigan State Board of Canvassers

Stand Up for Democracy appeared before the Michigan Court of Appeals on May 17, 2012. The group argued that the Board of State Canvassers unjustly denied the referendum ballot access with a politically motivated vote. The board had a split vote on the issue with the two Republican members voting to keep it off the ballot because they deemed the print on the petitions to be too small. Stand Up for Democracy went before the court essentially arguing that it was the proper size.[70]

On June 8 a three-judge panel from the court of appeals ruled on the case deciding that the measure should appear on the ballot. The court said it reached its decision based on a precedent set by an earlier case which said a technical violation such as the wrong font size shouldn't keep a question off the ballot. In spite of the court's decision, however, this did not mean the emergency manager law was suspended until November. That would not take place until the State Board of Canvassers met and certified the measure, in response to the court's ruling.[71]

Upon receiving an appeal of the Court of Appeal's ruling by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for July 25.[72]

On August 3, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court decided 4-3 to keep the referendum on the ballot.[73]

Michigan Casino Gaming Amendment (2012)

Protect MI Constitution v. Secretary of State

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered that the measure be kept off the ballot. The court ruled based on its finding that the amendment violated the state constitution because the petition failed to mention changes the proposal would make to the Gaming Control and Revenue Act. The lawsuit to keep the measure form the ballot was filed by Protect MI Constitution, a group comprised of existing Michigan casinos.[74]

An appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court was filed on Friday, August 17.[75] On Friday, August 24, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and ruled that the casino amendment be reconsidered by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers for placement on the ballot.[76]

Michigan "Protect Our Jobs" Amendment (2012)

Protect Our Jobs v. Board Of State Canvassers

Following a 2-2 vote in the Board of Stat Canvassers that prevented the amendment form reaching the ballot, supporters filed lawsuits in both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.[77]

On Wednesday, August 22, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling ordering the court of appeals to decide the matter by Monday, August 27.[78]

Missouri

Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)

Allred v. Carnahan

In mid-November 2011, Kansas City restaurant owner Victor Allred filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argued that the cost estimates for the proposed initiatives were insufficient and unfair. According to reports, the Missouri Restaurant Association endorsed Allred's challenge.[79]

On April 26, 2012 Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum rejected the challenge, therefore upholding the ballot measure and its summary.[80]

Then on May 18, 2012, Beetum ruled that the financial statement of the ballot measure was invalid. Beetum ruled that the state auditor, who prepared the estimate, had no authority to do so for ballot measures. This echoed his ruling earlier in 2012 that had bigger implications to the state's initiative process.[81]

Although that ruling was overturned by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the measure did not have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.

Post-disqualification lawsuit

Groups in support of both the Payday Loan Initiative and the Minimum Wage Initiative filed lawsuits in Cole County claiming that a number of valid petition signatures were not counted following the disqualification of petitions. The lawsuits followed the state's findings that the petitions for the measures contained an insufficient number of valid names.[82]

Missouri Income Tax Replacement Initiative (2012)

Rogers v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.

In early March 2011, a lawsuit was filed challenging the proposed measure's ballot summary and fiscal note. The suit was brought by a group called Missourians for Fair Taxation, opponents of the proposed measure. Attorneys Khristine Heisinger and Chuck Hatfield filed the challenge.[83]

Specifically, the lawsuit called into question the ballot summary drafted by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The group called the summary, "insufficient, unfair and likely to deceive and mislead voters." The group specifically pointed to the fact that the text currently states that the measure would impose an expanded sales tax. That, they said, is not the case. The measure would instead mandate that the legislature impose one but they argue that the text does not specifically state what would happen if the legislature refused.[83]

Additionally, the lawsuit argued that State Auditor Tom Schweich failed to differentiate between the nine filed initiatives and could have estimated the fiscal impacts based on information provided by state agencies, supporters and opponents.[83]

Different versions of the proposed measure were approved for petition circulation on September 14, 2011. Shortly thereafter Missourians for Fair Taxation filed a lawsuit in an effort to change the ballot language. According to the group, the newer language was vague. The text said that the measure may earn the state $300 million or cost it $1.5 billion. According to reports, "Republican [Auditor] Tom Schweich says that there are too many variables involved for his office to roll-up its sleeves and crunch the numbers."[84]

Missouri Municipal Police Amendment (2012)

St. Louis Police Officers' Association v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.

On March 24, 2011 officers of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association filed a lawsuit in Cole County against the proposed measure. The challenge specifically questioned the measure's summary and financial estimate.[85] The suit argued that the summary was unfair and misleading. The cost summary, prepared by Auditor Thomas Schweich (R), they argued was based "solely" on information provided by Mayor Francis Slay, a proponent of the proposed changes. The filed lawsuit added that the fiscal statement didn't include expenses like increased legal fees.[86]

The measure was subsequently placed on the ballot after a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that decided that the state auditor had the constitutional right to prepare the financial summaries of the measures.

The ruling ended what was a tangled web in the state initiative process that began with a simple legal challenge to a potential tobacco tax initiative.

Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2012)

Emmanuell Aziz et al v. Robert N. Mayer et al.

On July 6, 2011 opponents filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court arguing that the wording of the ballot summary may be misleading. Eight plaintiffs were listed on the lawsuit which included elderly, disabled, immigrant and student voters. Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney for the Advancement Project voting rights group was also involved in the suit, along with attorneys from American Civil Liberties Union chapters in St. Louis and Kansas City and the Washington-based Fair Elections Legal Network.[87]

Specifically, the lawsuit argued that the summary was misleading because lawmakers already had the authority to enact voting laws. The lawsuit stated that the measure would instead place "strict limits on any advance voting" and allow lawmakers "to strictly limit the types of photo identification."[87]

Liberman said, "There's nothing that alerts voters to the fact that they are voting to curtail one of the core fundamental rights of their constitution."[87]

The case was heard by Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. Defendants included Republican leaders of the House and the Senate, measure sponsor Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-21) and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).[87]

On March 27, 2012, Judge Joyce ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck the current summary from the ballot, finding the statement to be unfair and insufficient. Judge Joyce was, reportedly, especially troubled by the phrase "Voter Protection Act" in the summary, though it never actually appeared in the amendment itself. The measure was sent back to the Legislature with Judge Joyce saying, "Because significant changes are required here and policy choices may need to be made as to how to reallocate the words in a revised summary statement, the court chooses to vacate the summary statement and to provide the General Assembly an opportunity to revise it."[88]

The complete ruling can be found here.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan responded to the ruling saying, "The court decision finding that legislators wrote insufficient and unfair ballot language is a victory for voters’ rights. I am pleased the judge saw through this deceptive attempt to trick Missourians into thinking this proposal is about passing a Voter Protection Act."[89]

Case can be read here.

Missouri Public Prayer Amendment (August 2012)

Madeline Coburn et al v. Robert N. Mayer et al.

On July 7, 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed a lawsuit challenging the wording of the ballot summary. The legal challenge called for the summary to be rewritten or for the measure to be removed from the 2012 statewide ballot.[90]

Specifically, the lawsuit challenged that the summary was misleading because it did not mention that students could use the amendment to avoid homework assignments or that the measure would "remove any state constitutional protection of religious expression or liberty for prisoners in state or local custody."[91]

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a minister in the United Methodist Church who was a spiritual advisor to inmates in the Missouri Department of Corrections and an associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.[91]

Measure upheld

On March 29, Missouri Judge Pat Joyce upheld the prayer amendment's summary, allowing the measure to remain on the ballot.[92]

Missouri Payday Loan Initiative (2012)

John Prentzler v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.

A lawsuit was filed on August 18, 2011 in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argued that the ballot summary was "inadequate and unfair." Additionally, the suit noted that the cost estimate did not address all possible costs.[93]

The plaintiff was John Prentzler, director of auto operations at AutoStart USA. Prentzler was represented by Kansas City attorney Todd Graves and Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield.[94]

Specifically, the lawsuit highlighted that the lengthier fiscal note attached to the measure outlined a gloomier economic impact than what was outlined in the ballot language. State estimates said that the measure could have cost the state between $2.5 - $3.5 million, however, plaintiffs pointed to a report by a University of Missouri economics professor and former director of the Show-Me Institute that argued that the impact could have been approximately $57 million in the first year had the measure been approved.[94]

A second lawsuit was filed on August 19, 2011 in Cole County Circuit Court. Contrary to the lawsuit filed by critics of the measure, the second lawsuit was filed by proponents. They argued that the fiscal note ignored testimony by state and local agencies that found that the proposed measure would have had no cost on their budgets. Additionally, the suit noted that the fiscal note relied on the expertise of a someone who has testified against the regulations in the past.[95]

On April 5, 2012 Judge Dan Green ruled that the ballot summary and financial estimate for the initiative were "inadequate" and "unfair" and "likely to deceive petition signers." Specifically, Green noted that the summary, prepared by the Missouri Secretary of State's office, should have include that the measure would limit annualized interest rates to 36 percent on short-term loans. Additionally, the fiscal note, Green said, underestimated the potential loss of tax revenues. The fiscal note was prepared by the Missouri Auditor's office.[96]

In response to the ruling, supporters said that they planned to continue collecting petition signatures.[96]

The Missouri Secretary of State stated a plan to appeal the ruling.[97]

However, after both lawsuits were filed, it was found in August 2012 that the initiative effort had not collected enough signatures to even be considered for the ballot.[98]

Post-disqualification lawsuit

Groups in support of both the Payday Loan Initiative and the Minimum Wage Initiative filed lawsuits in Cole County claiming that a number of valid petition signatures were not counted following the disqualification of petitions. The lawsuits followed the state's findings that the petitions for the measures contained an insufficient number of valid names.[99]

Missouri Judicial Appointment Amendment (2012)

Legislator lawsuit

The ballot summary of the measure was under scrutiny, with legislative figures who support the measure stating that the summary, provided by the Missouri Secretary of State, was misleading to voters. A subsequent lawsuit was filed with Cole County Circuit Court.[100]

Sen. Jim Lembke (R-1), who sponsored the measure, stated about the Missouri Secretary of State's measure summary, "She misuses her power to manipulate the process, and I believe that this is more evidence that she's been a dishonest broker of partisan politics."

However, Secretary of State spokesman Ryan Hobart stated about controversies surrounding 2012 ballot measure summaries, "This office has always followed our legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot initiatives, and this summary is no different."[100]

The court ruled in favor of the secretary's office, stating, "We are pleased with the Cole County Circuit Court’s decision today regarding Constitutional Amendment 3 (SJR 51). The secretary of state's office has a legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot measures. The judge’s decision supports our position that the summary drafted by our office meets that legal standard."[101]

Montana

Montana Supreme Court Elections Question (June 2012)

Reichert, et al. vs. State

On November 23, 2011, a lawsuit to strike the measure from the ballot was filed by a group state voters which reports say included a handful of 1972 Constitutional Convention delegates. According to the lawsuit, the measure would illegally amend the Montana Constitution. The lawsuit specifically stated: "The referendum is illegal, unconstitutional and void, in that it deprives (voters) of their right to vote for certain Supreme Court candidates."[102] On Monday, January 9, seven, one from each of the proposed judicial districts, Republican legislators filed a motion to intervene in the case with Judge James Reynolds. They asked the court to allow them to keep the measure on the ballot, according to their attorney, Sen. Art Wittich, "The (legislators') voting rights are directly impacted by the disposition of this case. As residents and voters of the proposed seven districts, the intervenors have a substantial interest in the subject matter of this action and should be allowed to intervene." The lawmakers who filed the motion are Sens. Joe Balyeat (R-34), who sponsored the bill, Edward Walker (R-29), and Greg Hinkle (R-7); and Reps. Mark Blasdel (R-10), Ryan Osmundson (R-29), Matthew Rosendale (R-19), and Kelly Flynn (R-68).[103]

On March 20, 2012, Judge Reynolds struck the measure form the ballot as unconstitutional saying that adding the new candidate requirements for Supreme Court justices, those which required candidates live inside proposed regional districts, conflict with what is already in the state constitution. Requests by supporters to simply remove the offending language were denied, with Judge Reynolds saying, "Without clear judicial legislation, this court cannot rewrite the remaining parts of this referendum. To do so would entail completely rewriting the title, the ballot statement, the statements of implication, and the text of the referendum itself. There is no constitutional or statutory authority for such a revision."[104]

The state appealed the decision to the Montana Supreme Court on Friday, April 6. The Montana Attorney General’s Office asked the state Supreme Court to reverse the ruling because a lawsuit on the subject was "unripe," stating in a brief, "LR-119 is not presently in effect, and may never become law."[105]

In a 6-to-1 ruling delivered on Thursday, April 12, the state Supreme Court upheld Judge Reynolds's March decision. However, the ruling was on the request expedited appeal due to the June 5 date the measure is supposed to appear on the ballot. Reportedly, Sen. Balyeat expressed the opinion that all of the sitting Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves due to their interest in the outcome.[106]

  • Documents in the case can be found here.

Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure (2012)

Montana AFL-CIO v. Montana Attorney General

On October 5, 2011, four labor groups asked District Judge Kathy Seeley to remove the measure from the ballot. The groups stated that the bill was unconstitutional because it was an inappropriate appropriation of money by legislative referendum. The groups that filed the lawsuit were MEA-MFT, the Montana AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Montana Council 9. The last group is not a labor union.[107]

During the week of November 4, 2011, the Montana Attorney General's office asked Seeley to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the matter should be discussed after voters have their say on the matter. According to Assistant Attorney General Andrew Huff: "LR-123 is not clearly unconstitutional on its face and should proceed to a vote, consistent with judicial deference to the people’s authority in the referendum context."[108]

On Thursday, February 16, public employee unions asked District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock to bar the proposal from the ballot, arguing that the measure would unconstitutionally grant powers of appropriation every time the proposed conditions were met. John Morrison, a former state auditor, said the measure would allow for a large degree of human error. The state attorney general's office requested that the case be dismissed. Andy Huff, Assistant Attorney General, said, "It is rare that these initiatives and referendums are struck down. It is only when there is procedural problem or gross constitutional problems with the bill." Morrison asked that Judge Sherlock ruled fairly quickly so that the losing side had time to appeal before the election in November.[109]

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Judge Sherlock ruled that the ballot measure did not represent an illegal appropriation of money by ballot issue. However, the challenge to the measure was not over yet, Judge Sherlock still had to rule on whether or not the measure constitutes an illegal delegation of power.[110]

On Tuesday, June 7, 2012, Judge Sherlock ruled the measure unconstitutional and disqualified it from appearing on the ballot. Sherlock ruled that the measure was an unconstitutional delegation of power by the Legislature to an employee, saying, "Everyone, including the undersigned, would like to see a tax credit or refund. The Legislature could do so itself or could properly delegate this function to an executive agency. However the Legislature cannot delegate its power to one of its employees."[111]

On Friday, June 22, the state appealed the case to the Montana Supreme Court. Attorney General Steve Bullock, representing the state in the case, argued that voters should be allowed to vote on the ballot measure before a court decides on whether it is legal or not.[112]

Montana Corporate Contributions Initiative, I-166 (2012)

Phil Lilleberg, et al. v. Montana Attorney General and Secretary of State

On Monday, July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with the Montana Supreme Court aimed at blocking the measure from the ballot this fall. The lawsuit was filed by Sen. David Lewis (R-42), businessman Phil Lilleberg, and the group Montanans Opposed to I-166. The complaint filed with the court stated that the measure "is not legally sufficient to appear on the state’s general election ballot, and that the statements prepared for the petition and the ballot do not meet the requirements of (state law)."[113]

On Friday, August 10, the Montana Supreme Court delivered a ruling keeping the measure on the November ballot. The court ruled on the issue saying, "The petition does not allege nor does this Court find that the petition was legally insufficient as to the requirements for submission of a proposed ballot issue." Within hours of the decision, lawyers for Montanans Opposed to I-166 filed a separate lawsuit challenging the measure with the United States District Court for the District of Montana.[114]

Montana District Court Judge David Cybulski announced that he would not rule on the merits of I-166 before the election. He would, however, address whether or not Attorney General Steve Bullock and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch acted incorrectly when they allowed I-166 on the ballot. If Bullock and McCulloch were found to have made a mistake by placing the measure on the ballot, the court could have ordered election officials to not count votes for the initiative.[115]\

However, this did not come to fruition.

In December 2013, a lower state court struck down I-66 in Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County. It invalidated the portion of the initiative which required state legislators to craft an amendment to the state constitution that would overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. The ruling was based on a 1984 Montana Supreme Court case in which an initiative that ordered state legislators take specific action was struck down. Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County did uphold the part of I-166 that states: "unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens."[116]

Montana Proof of Citizenship Question, LR-121 (2012)

Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance v. State of Montana

On December 7, 2012, the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance filed a lawsuit against the measure saying that the law unconstitutionally targets immigrants, legal or otherwise. The case was heard by Judge Jeffrey M. Sherlock of the Montana 1st Judicial District Court.[117] The original complaint may be read here.

On May 23, 2013, Judge Sherlock heard a request filed by Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have no standing due to the fact that there were no known instances of the law being actually enforced since it took effect.[118]

Montana Parental Notification Measure, LR-120 (2012)

Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana

On May 30, 2013, Planned Parenthood of Montana filed a lawsuit with the state district court asking that LR-120 be overturned. Though the measure was passed by voters in 2012, the lawsuit was triggered by the passage of House Bill 391, a newer, stricter law that requires parental consent before minors can have an abortion. Planned Parenthood argued that these new laws put the health of minors at risk because not everyone can safely go to parents with these types of issues. Supporters of the new laws said that parental consent is already required for a host of other medical procedures, and abortion should be no different.[119]

Nevada

Nevada Harrah's Sports Arena Initiative (2012)

Taxpayers for Protection of Nevada Jobs v. Arena Initiative Committee

Single-subject challenge

On September 21, 2010 District Judge James Todd Russell upheld the proposed initiative petition. Taxpayers for Protection of Nevada Jobs argued that the proposed initiative violated the "single-subject rule" and thus the petition should be declared invalid. However, the judge ruled that the organization's lawyer Scott Scherer did not prove a violation of the "single-subject rule."[120] The case was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Challenge to invalidate signatures

On December 15, 2010 the Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs filed a lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court alleging that there had been fraud and misconduct in the gathering of petition signatures. Specifically, the lawsuit aimed to invalidate the collected signatures.[121]

The lawsuit argued that the petition circulation process was tainted by fraudulent behavior by engaging in the use of false advertisements. For example, the lawsuit pointed to the use of pervasive lies about the details of the initiative (including the location of the proposed arena) and false statements about who circulated the petitions and obtained the signatures.[121]

On February 3, 2011, District Court Judge Todd Russell declined to block the measure from being presented to the opening of Legislature, as requested by the lawsuit. The lawsuit sought to block the measure from legislative review until March when the judge rules whether or not fraudulent signatures appeared on the petition. Opponents argued that the initiative effort will not have obtained enough signatures if the judge confirms and tosses out the alleged fraudulent signatures.

Russell suggested there were enough signatures for the measure to be placed on the ballot on April 7, 2011. On that day, Russell ordered attorneys to submit closing briefs, and stated he would soon rule on whether or not any "minor errors" or other circumstances invalidated the petition and the initiative's ballot status. He also claimed there were "interesting issues" in the case.[122]

Judge Todd Russell ruled on May 9, 2011 that the initiative did indeed gather enough signatures to advance to the ballot. According to the ruling Russell stated that the opponents who filed the lawsuit double counted invalid signatures. He also tossed the argument by the plaintiffs that the county clerks allegedly inflated signatures counts. According to reports, the plaintiffs, Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs, had the option to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, which the group was considering. As expected, the appeal was filed with the state high court during the week of May 16, 2011.[123][124]

Supreme Court consolidates cases

On May 20, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court consolidated the two appeals into a single case. The order consolidating the cases can be found here.

Supreme Court considers appeal

During an opening brief on July 18, 2011 in the state high court, Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada argued: “During the signature-gathering process, petition circulators used fraudulent means to obtain signatures, including providing false and misleading information about the location and the initiative benefits and detriments to induce people to sign the petition."[125]

  • Documents in the appeal can be found here.

On March 7, 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments from both sides of the measure. Justices questioned whether or not the initiative violated the court's ruling in 2011 that ruled that the state constitution prohibited local laws that supersede general state law.[126]

  • Audio of the oral arguments can be found here.

Ruling

On June 20, 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered that the wording of the initiative had to be changed in order for it to appear on the November ballot. The measure's impacts, according to reports, would not be changed and the initiative does not have to be circulated again, however. According to the 7-0 ruling, "Because it fails to reveal the ramifications to the competing arena proposals and fails to inform voters of the precise location of the proposed arena, we conclude the initiative's description of effect is deceptive and materially misleading."[127]

Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment (2012)

Nevada Mining Association v. Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes

The Nevada Mining Association filed a lawsuit in state court in Carson City during late-February 2012, attempting to block the measure from the ballot. The association stated that the measure was misleading and failed to describe the consequences to Nevada's overall tax structure if enacted by voters.[128]

On March 14, 2012, District Judge James Wilson ruled that the initiative could proceed to collect signatures as written. Wilson, while dismissing arguments made by the Nevada Mining Association, stated: "The court concludes [the measure's language] is not clearly invalid."[129] The case has been appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

  • Documents in the appeal can be found here.

Nevada Casino Tax Amendment (2012)

Nevada Resort Association v. Nevadans For 9% Gambling Revenue Tax, Inc.

The Nevada Resort Association filed a lawsuit on February 29, 2012 in order to block the initiative petition. The lawsuit was filed in Carson City District Court, stating that the petition was misleading to voters. Specifically, reports stated that the group asked Judge James Todd Russell to stop initiative organizers from collecting signatures.[130]

On April 12, 2012, Russell threw out the petition, stating that language used by supporters didn't properly explain the impacts of the measure if enacted. Supporters had the option to refile the measure with the Nevada Secretary of State's office.[131]

North Dakota

North Dakota University "Fighting Sioux" Referendum, Measure 4 (June 2012)

North Dakota State Board of Higher Education V. Jaeger

On Monday, February 14, 2012, North Dakota's Board of Higher Education voted to file a lawsuit aimed at keeping the referendum off the ballot. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) said the North Dakota Supreme Court will weigh in on the dispute quickly, and that the court invoked it's original jurisdiction before to hear high profile cases before and do so this case.[132][133]

The court asked the referendum's sponsoring committee if it wanted to respond as well. Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) was the defendant.[134] Secretary Jaeger hired attorneys Sarah Andrews Herman and Matthew Kipp of Fargo to represent his office in the suit.[135]

Hearings for the case were held in an hour long session before the state Supreme Court on Thursday, March 15, 2012, with both sides receiving tough questioning. Justices questioned the board on the reasons for their tardiness in seeking court action, Justice Daniel Crothers asked, "That harm has been there since the statute was passed almost a year ago... Why now? Why in the face of a referral?" The court was also critical of the defense's claims that regulating the nickname and logo were within the legislature's constitutional rights. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said the state's arguments were so broad that it "would consume the constitutional authority of the board, if the Legislature wanted to do it."[136]

On April 3, the state Supreme Court delivered a ruling refusing to block the referendum from the June ballot.[137]

  • The Supreme Court's ruling can be found here.

North Dakota Property Tax Amendment, Measure 2 (June 2012)

Empower the Taxpayer, et al. v. Cory Fong, et al.

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Empower the Taxpayer and Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of the initiative campaign, filed a lawsuit against Tax Commissioner Cory Fong (R) and several other top public officials. The lawsuit claimed that these officials are using public money and resources to campaign against Measure 2 and, thereby, violating North Dakota laws that prevent public resources being used for political activity. Robert Hale, a member of Empower the Taxpayer, said, "Elected officials, government entities and organizations funded with taxpayer dollars are actively and intentionally engaged in lies, misrepresentations, deceptions, mischaracterization and fear-mongering." Fong responded to the allegations saying, "I think I was elected as tax commissioner ... to have comments and analysis of important measures that affect our tax system. This measure obviously impacts our overall tax system."[138]

On February 21 District Judge Bruce Romanick denied the plaintiffs' request for a court order telling public officials to stop speaking against the measure. Judge Romanick said the lawsuit provided no sworn statements that back up its allegations, statements which are needed to secure the court order requested.[139]

Judge Romanick set an April 3 hearing for the lawsuit.[140]

The lawsuit was thrown out by Judge Romanick on April 12. The decision was quickly appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court.[141]

The state supreme court took up the case and heard arguments from lawyers during the week of June 4.[142]

  • Romanick's ruling can be found here.

Ohio

Ohio "Personhood" Initiative (2013)

Healthy Families Ohio, Inc. v. Ohio Ballot Board

In March of 2012, a lawsuit was filed against the initiative effort. The lawsuit was filed by Healthy Families Ohio, who argued that the measure addressed two subjects and should have been split into two separate measures. However, proponents argued that the goal of the initiative was to ban abortion in the state of Ohio, and nothing else. The Ohio Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit on March 21. According to Personhood Ohio spokesman Dr. Patrick Johnston: "They were trying to derail our petition process. We're trying to gather signatures to put a personhood amendment on the ballot in Ohio, which will end all abortion, protect every unborn child. And, of course, as you can imagine, they're doing everything they can to keep it off the ballot. They don't want Ohioans to vote on this issue."[143]

  • Documents in the case can be found here.

Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2012)

State ex rel. Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage v. DeWine

On April 10, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court, challenging the same-sex marriage amendment's summary language. The group argued (1) that the summary is too long to qualify as a summary and (2) that the summary misrepresents the amendment. On April 27, defendent and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.[144]

During the week of May 2, 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine requested that the Ohio Supreme Court dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the court has no jurisdiction over the pre-certification process for a proposed constitutional amendment.[145]

On May 25, 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit. According to reports, court justices voted 5-2 to dismiss the case. Justices Terrence O'Donnell and Robert Cupp were the two justices who voted to not dismiss the lawsuit.[146]

  • Documents for the case can be found here.

Ohio Redistricting Amendment (2012)

Voters First v. The Ohio Ballot Board

The coalition in favor of the amendment, Voters First, filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court on August 23, 2012 that challenged the ballot wording formulated by the Ohio Ballot Board.

According to the lawsuit, the group challenged that the wording wasn't fair or accurate. The lawsuit asked the court to reconvene the board to come up with new language or to have the high court write the language instead of the board.

The formal title of the court case was State ex rel. Voters First, Ann Henkener, Samuel Gresham, Jr., Ellis Jacobs, Richard Gunther, and Dan Tokaji v. The Ohio Ballot Board and Hon. Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled during the week of September 11, 2012 that the wording of the measure was "defective" and "misleads voters." As a result, the ballot language that would be placed in front of voters was ordered to be rewritten.[147]

On September 13, 2012, the Ohio Ballot Board met to change the description in order to comply with the high court's orders. That same day, the ballot language was doubled in length.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma "Personhood" Amendment (2012)

In re Initiative Petition No. 395, State Question No. 761

On March 29, 2012, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, on behalf of multiple Oklahoma doctors and residents, in an attempt to block signature collection for the November 2012 ballot. Those who filed the lawsuit claimed that the ballot initiative is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.[148]

According to Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU's Oklahoma chapter: "Let's save the taxpayers of Oklahoma the time and expense of collecting and verifying signatures, placing this question on the ballot and sending something that we know is unconstitutional to a vote of the people."[148]

On the other side of the argument, Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, commented: "The opponents of personhood will stop at nothing to deny the people of Oklahoma their First Amendment right to petition the government on behalf of the preborn and ultimately recognize the most basic and fundamental human rights of the smallest and most defenseless people group."[148]

On April 30, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the amendment. Although the court did not find the proposed amendement in direct violation of Oklahoma Constitution, the state constitution forbids amendments that conflict with the U.S. Constitution. The court held that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey governed in the case.[149][150]

  • The order in the case can be found here.

Oregon

Oregon Studded Tire Ban Initiative (2012)

Lavey & Taylor v. Kroger

The proposed ballot language was challenged by Dan Lavey and Anna Richter Taylor. Lavey and Taylor work for Gallatin Public Affairs whose clients include Les Schwab, a chain of stores that offer tires, wheels, brakes, shocks, and alignments.[151]

The ballot language was modified in August 2011. On October 6, 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court cleared the ballot language for petition circulation.[152]

  • The court order can be found here.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Casino Gambling Amendment (2012)

Narragansett Indian Tribe v. Rhode Island

The Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island Superior Court on September 28, 2011, asking that the court declare the 2012 measure unconstitutional. The lawsuit referred to the tribe's own efforts to place a similar measure on the ballot in the past, where the court ruled that the tribe's proposal was unconstitutional due to the provision stating: "All lotteries shall be prohibited in the State except lotteries operated by the State."[153]

The lawsuit stated that Twin River was not being held to the same legal standard as the previous efforts by the Narragansett. The plaintiff's petition in the case can be found here.

The court set May 30 for hearing oral arguments. Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle commented on the announcement saying, "We're extremely pleased that the court is moving quickly to resolve the lawsuit. The constitutionality of Twin River Casino and their role as a state-operated casino has been recognized in two Supreme Court rulings, and we feel there is no merit to this latest legal challenge."[154]

Another casino measure made the ballot in 2012, the Newport Grand Casino Amendment, which became a part of the lawsuit when it was certified to appear on the ballot in April 2012.

On June 29, 2012, Superior Court Judge Melanie Thunberg ruled that the two measures could stay on the ballot.[155]

NOTE: Each lawsuit against proposed 2012 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.
The following tab shows a list of lawsuits, by "topic", that were filed against statewide ballot measures aiming for the 2012 ballot. Click the "show" link to read about specifics of a particular lawsuit.

Ballot text

Arizona

Arizona Public Election Funding Ban Amendment (2012)

Arizona Advocacy Network v. Bennett

On May 6, 2011, elected officials and future potential candidates in the state filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court attempting to block the measure from being placed on the ballot. Attorney for the plaintiffs, Paul Eckstein, stated that the language of the measure constitutionally bars government agencies from spending public funds for "campaign support." This is a term that is ambiguously referred to, according to Eckstein. He argued that this could lead to that phrase being interpreted as disallowing direct contributions to political races and also banning daily operations of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Eckstein pointed out that this could mean that the measure violates the state's single-subject rule.[156]

This argument was the primary one that the attorney put forth. Eckstein contended that if the measure is approved by voters, it would repeal a separate program in Tucson where political candidates can ultimately obtain public money. Eckstein stated, "This question presents a subject that should be decided by voters separately."

Jonathan Paton, who was a proponent of the measure, claimed about the lawsuit, "It sounds pretty obvious they don't want to face us in November on the ballot because they know they're going to lose."

Hearing

On October 17, 2011, the measure was heard in Maricopa County Superior Court, where arguments were given regarding the measure. According to Sam Wercinski of the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, who was against the repeal of the Clean Elections law: “This is really about big money in Arizona trying to repeal an anti-corruption law because they want to control through campaign contributions who gets to run, who gets elected and how tax cuts are given."

Jonathan Payton, who wanted the measure to stay on the ballot, argued: “It’s wrong to give money to people to buy junk mail and yard signs."

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink stated: "This is local taxpayer funds designated for one purpose becoming part of the state’s general fund. But I’m concerned about the city’s money potentially being taken away.”[157]

Ruling

Judge Fink ruled on October 26, 2011 that the proposed partial repeal of the "Clean Elections Act" be taken off the ballot, stating that it violates the state's single subject rule. An appeal did not occur.[158][159]

The court's ruling can be found here.

Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment (2012)

Ann-Eve Pederson v. Secretary of State Ken Bennett

On June 28, 2012, Quality Education and Jobs Committee filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, claiming that their signatures were valid and that their proposal should have been placed on the ballot. The initiative was previously disqualified by Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) because ballot language on circulating petitions was different from language that the secretary's office had on file. According to supporters of the initiative, differences between the circulated text and the official text was a "hyper-technicality." Supporters argued that the circulated text was "substantially" the same.[160]

Judge Robert Oberbillig scheduled July 18, 2012 as the date for the hearing.[161]

On that same day, Oberbillig ruled that Secretary Bennett should not have refused to process the petitions. The judge ruled that the measure be placed on the November ballot. According to Oberbillig, proponents of the initiative gave Bennett the correct version of the petition and that there was no evidence that those who signed the petition were misled.[162]

Secretary of State Ken Bennett filed an appeal of the ruling, insisting that proponents of the initiative did not comply with state law. Bennett hired an expert in elections law to spearhead the appeal. Bennett stated, "To leave the lower court ruling in place I think risks huge voter confusion, huge confusion with our offices and other filing offices as far as how we're supposed to process these initiatives."[163]

However, that appeal failed as the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the measure be placed on the ballot. According to the high court, the text on the petition complied with state election law.[164]

Arkansas

Arkansas Casino Amendment (2012)

Nancy Todd's challenge

On August 24, 2012, Nancy Todd, the supporter of the second initiative, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court over the rejection of her proposal by state election officials. Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's office rejected the revised wording that was submitted by supporters.

The lawsuit stated: "The secretary of state's threatened refusal to carry out this legal duty is a violation of his statutory obligations to the petitioners and the people and an abridgement of their rights under Amendment 7."[165]

However, on October 4, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that the measure's language was changed while signatures were being collected, deeming them invalid. The measure remained on the ballot, but votes were not counted.[166]

Arkansas Racing Alliance v. Nancy Todd

On September 18, 2012, the Arkansas Racing Alliance filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court to block Nancy Todd's ballot proposal.[167]

The lawsuit challenged the legitimacy of the signatures that supporters submitted to the secretary of state and the language of the measure. This was the second lawsuit that has been filed regarding Nancy Todd's proposal. Todd's proposal was subsequently rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question (2012)

Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values challenge

After verifying that supporters had turned in enough signatures, Arkansas election officials placed the measure on the fall ballot. But, a coalition of conservative groups called the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values filed a lawsuit against the measure with the Arkansas Supreme Court on August 31. The lawsuit asked that the measure either be stricken from the ballot or that votes for it not be counted. The coalition argued that initiative backers failed to inform voters that even if the measure was approved, medical marijuana users could face prosecution under federal law.[168]

According to reports and documents filed on September 5, 2012, the Arkansas Secretary of State requested that the court dismiss him from the lawsuit. This was not done, however.

The Arkansas Supreme Court stated on September 13, 2012, that it would not hear oral arguments from either side of the lawsuit. Justices denied the requests by both sides, which filed those requests the day before.[169]

On Thursday, September 27, the court ruled in favor of keeping the measure on the ballot. In response to the coalition's argument that the measure failed to properly inform voters, the court wrote, "We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring. Therefore, the act is proper for inclusion on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, and the petition is therefore denied."[170]

California

California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)

Ashlee Titus v. Debra Bowen

Ashlee Titus v. Debra Bowen was the lawsuit filed by Proposition 32 supporters. They asked the court to do two things; the court agreed with them on one request.[26]

  • First, Titus asked that the court change the state's official summary/label. The court agreed with this request.

The old ballot summary said:

"Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use restrictions to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees."

The new, court-ordered summary/label, with deleted text shown in strike-out text and added language shown in italics, says:

"Restricts Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use restrictions prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Restricts Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Limits Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.

The key change was to the consistent use of "prohibits," rather than "restricts." In their lawsuit, according to "Yes on 32" campaign spokesperson Jake Suski, the use of the word "restrict," which was the word chosen by the Attorney General of California, was misleading. Suski said, "Voters deserve to be informed that Prop. 32 doesn't just reduce direct contributions from corporations and unions to politicians, it eliminates them entirely."[27] After the lower court's ruling came out, Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California, went to a higher level court and filed a petition asking for immediate review of the lower court's decision. This request was denied.[171]

"Yes on 32" supporters made an additional request of the court. This second request was denied. This was a request to have the phrase "Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition" removed from the state's official materials.

Lou Paulson v. Debra Bowen

Lou Paulson v. Debra Bowen was the lawsuit filed by the "No on 32" campaign. Their request to the court was denied.[29]

The "No on 32" campaign's lawsuit challenged ballot language they believed might mislead voters about whether payroll deductions could still occur if a worker provided the state with written permission when in fact, under the provisions of Proposition 32, the state cannot engage in the practice of payroll deductions regardless of whether or not a worker gives permission.[27]

California Proposition 33, Automobile Insurance Persistency Discounts (2012)

Sacramento County Superior Court lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 33 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court saying that the ballot title and summary provided by the Attorney General of California are inaccurate and misleading. The lawsuit also said that arguments opposing Proposition 33 submitted for the state's official voter guide by its opponents are inaccurate. The lawsuit asked that the title be changed, and that what supporters said are inaccurate arguments from opponents not be allowed into the voter guide.[30]

In the part of the lawsuit that sought to have the official ballot summary changed, supporters said, "The Ballot Label and Ballot Title and Summary prepared by the Attorney General for Proposition 33 contain inaccurate language that is highly likely to prejudice voters against the measure...Specifically, the Ballot Label and Ballot Title and Summary state that Proposition 33 changes current law to allow insurance companies to 'set prices.' This is not true. Under California law, insurance companies cannot simply set prices, and Proposition 33 will not change this fact." The lawsuit needed to be resolved before August 13, when the official voter guides go to press.[27]

In the part of the lawsuit that objected to arguments filed against Proposition 33 by its opponents, the lawsuit said that the anti-argument that said "Proposition 33 unfairly punishes anyone who stopped driving for a good reason but now needs insurance to get back behind the wheel" should be stricken from the voter guide in its entirety because, they said, this statement is "false and misleading."[27]

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley rejected the lawsuit. This rejection was described by Proposition 33 opponent Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog as a "total victory" for opponents.[31]

California Proposition 35, Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery (2012)

Ballot language lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 35 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on August 3, 2012. The lawsuit was successful. The purpose of the lawsuit was to force the California Secretary of State, in the Spanish-language version of the state's official voter guide, to replace the term "tráfico humano" with "trata de personas."[172]

California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)

Analysis lawsuit

Supporters of Proposition 37 filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on August 9, 2012. The lawsuit was successful. The purpose of the lawsuit was to force the California Secretary of State to revise the state's "impartial analysis" of Proposition 37 that appeared in the state's official voter guide. The correction asked for by Proposition 37 supporters, and ordered by the court, amounted to the change of one word. Specifically, the court ordered that the word "some" replace the word "all" in this sentence: "Given the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions would be interpreted by the courts to apply to some processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered." (In the actual voter guide, the word some will not appear in underlined bold form.)[173]

Colorado

Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2012)

Bruce v. Colorado Title-Setting Board

A lawsuit was filed on July 11, 2011 against the proposed ballot measure, stating that the proposal does not make it clear that taxes would be raised. Douglas Bruce, of Colorado Springs, filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court.

However, Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado stated that the five-business day allowance to challenge the measure has already passed. A spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State claimed that since the ballot measure language was revised, the legal challenge could move forward.[174]

Florida

Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 8 (2012)

Shapiro v. Browning

On July 20, 2011 the Florida Education Association (FEA) along with an inter-faith clergy group and some school administrators filed a lawsuit to block the proposed measure.[175] Also involved in the suit is Lee Swift, president of the Florida School Board Association, and Susan Summers-Persis, president of the Florida Association of School Administrators. Opponents argued that the measure's title and ballot summary are misleading. FEA described the proposed measure as an "underhanded attempt to legalize state tuition vouchers for private schools, including church-affiliated schools."[176] "This is designed to open up the state treasury to voucher schools, but that's not what the title of the amendment and the ballot summary say," said union president Andy Ford.[43]

Measure supporter Rep. Scott Plakon said, "They are trying to paint a picture that if this is repealed that the state is going to put a million dollar check in the offering of the Baptist Church and that is simply them being untruthful. All this does is make sure that our constitution does not treat people of faith differently than any others."[43]

In response, Rep. Scott Randolph said, "Throughout the 2011 legislative session, Republican legislators disguised the proposed constitutional amendment as one that would merely protect religious freedom and end religious discrimination. But in actuality, this proposal has one purpose: to allow the unlimited use of taxpayers’ money to send children to private schools instead of building a quality public school system."[177]

The filed lawsuit also challenged 2011 legislation that allowed for the Florida Attorney General's office to rewrite ballot summaries or titles after the Florida Supreme Court removed a certified measure from the statewide ballot. The lawsuit argued that authority for such a changes lies only in the Florida State Legislature.[178]

The lawsuit was heard on October 27, 2011.[179][180][181]

The case was heard by Judge Terry Lewis. The case (Shapiro v. Browning) number was 2011-CA-1892.

Court ruling

On December 14, 2011 Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled that the legislatively-proposed measure would no longer appear on the 2012 ballot. Specifically, Lewis ruled that the phrase "consistent with the U.S. Constitution" was ambiguous and misleading. The phrase, Lewis said, implied that it would make the Florida Constitution conform with the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment.[49]

The lawsuit also challenged 2011 legislation that allowed for the Florida Attorney General's office to rewrite ballot summaries or titles after Florida Supreme Court removed a certified measure from the statewide ballot. Lewis rejected that challenge. "The law under review does not, after all, give the Attorney General authority to re-write the amendment itself -- only the description of it," Lewis said.[49]

Because the 2011 state law was not overturned, the Florida Attorney General still maintained the authority to rewrite the proposal. This was done within 10 days, which was the allotted time to do so.

Measure re-written

On December 20, 2011, Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) rewrote the proposal, and therefore the measure was placed on the ballot for a second time.[49]

The new language of the proposal read: "Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."[50]

Despite new language, some argued that the measure remained misleading. Rabbi Merrill Shapiro of First Congregation Sons of Israel and the primary plaintiff in the case said that Amendment 7 would repeal provisions in the Florida Constitution to prohibit the use of public funds for religious institutions. However, Shapiro noted that the current ballot language did not make that clear.[182] Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said "the proposal continues to mislead voters by failing to inform them of the chief purpose and actual impact of the amendment – to virtually require taxpayer funding of religious activities of churches, mosques and synagogues."[183]. Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination said the amendment would ensure that time-honored social services provided by those motivated by faith will continue. [2]

In early January 2012 a lawyer for the education groups and clergy members said that they did not plan to pursue a legal challenge against the revised language.[184]

Massachusetts

Massachusetts "Death with Dignity" Initiative (2012)

John Kelly et al vs. Martha Coakley

On May 17, 2012, over 60 Massachusetts voters, including members of the disability rights group Second Thoughts, filed a challenge before the Supreme Judicial Court against the measure, challenging the wording to the measure. On June 4, 2012, the claim was denied by Justice Cordy.[185]

According to John Kelly, director of the Second Thoughts group, and who was listed in the title of the lawsuit, "The ballot language is clearly misleading. We want the voters of Massachusetts to know exactly what they are voting on this November." The petition asked the Supreme Judicial Court to remand the language to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and Secretary of State William Galvin (D) with the requirement that they amend the language for clarity and accuracy. The measure was placed on the ballot despite the litigation.[186]

The case docket can be read here.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (2012)

Heidi Heilman et al v Attorney General and Secretary of the Commonwealth

In May 2012, The Massachusetts Prevention Alliance filed a petition to the state supreme judicial court requesting that the wording of the ballot question be changed. According to reports, the group claimed that the wording of the measure hid key provisions of the potential state statute. For example, the group argued that a network of dispensaries would be created to comply with the law, if enacted, but that this was not shown clearly by the wording.[66]

Shortly after, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley moved to dismiss the petition. According to the Attorney General's office, the petition did not offer a valid alternative way to write the ballot question.[66]

During the case hearings, associate justice on the state Supreme Judicial Court Robert Cordy was skeptical of the ballot measure's wording, indicating he was open to a re-writing of the proposal's language, asking the Attorney General, "If it was entitled, 'Medical use of cigarettes,' would you have a problem with that? What's your evidence there is a medical use of marijuana?"[187]

Around June 8, 2012, the supreme judicial court ruled in favor of the opponents who filed the lawsuit, stating that the measure's language was misleading. The court ruled that Coakley rewrite the ballot language.[188]

In a decision on July 2, 2012 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy approved newly rewritten language of the measure.

According to reports, the main part of the language that was rewritten was the "yes" statement reads that reads, "A yes vote would enact the proposed law eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers, or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use."[189]

The case docket can be read here.

Missouri

Missouri Income Tax Replacement Initiative (2012)

Rogers v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.

In early March 2011, a lawsuit was filed challenging the proposed measure's ballot summary and fiscal note. The suit was brought by a group called Missourians for Fair Taxation, opponents of the proposed measure. Attorneys Khristine Heisinger and Chuck Hatfield filed the challenge.[83]

Specifically, the lawsuit called into question the ballot summary drafted by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The group called the summary, "insufficient, unfair and likely to deceive and mislead voters." The group specifically pointed to the fact that the text currently states that the measure would impose an expanded sales tax. That, they said, is not the case. The measure would instead mandate that the legislature impose one but they argue that the text does not specifically state what would happen if the legislature refused.[83]

Additionally, the lawsuit argued that State Auditor Tom Schweich failed to differentiate between the nine filed initiatives and could have estimated the fiscal impacts based on information provided by state agencies, supporters and opponents.[83]

Different versions of the proposed measure were approved for petition circulation on September 14, 2011. Shortly thereafter Missourians for Fair Taxation filed a lawsuit in an effort to change the ballot language. According to the group, the newer language was vague. The text said that the measure may earn the state $300 million or cost it $1.5 billion. According to reports, "Republican [Auditor] Tom Schweich says that there are too many variables involved for his office to roll-up its sleeves and crunch the numbers."[190]

Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2012)

Emmanuell Aziz et al v. Robert N. Mayer et al.

On July 6, 2011 opponents filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court arguing that the wording of the ballot summary may be misleading. Eight plaintiffs were listed on the lawsuit which included elderly, disabled, immigrant and student voters. Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney for the Advancement Project voting rights group was also involved in the suit, along with attorneys from American Civil Liberties Union chapters in St. Louis and Kansas City and the Washington-based Fair Elections Legal Network.[87]

Specifically, the lawsuit argued that the summary was misleading because lawmakers already had the authority to enact voting laws. The lawsuit stated that the measure would instead place "strict limits on any advance voting" and allow lawmakers "to strictly limit the types of photo identification."[87]

Liberman said, "There's nothing that alerts voters to the fact that they are voting to curtail one of the core fundamental rights of their constitution."[87]

The case was heard by Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. Defendants included Republican leaders of the House and the Senate, measure sponsor Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-21) and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).[87]

On March 27, 2012, Judge Joyce ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck the current summary from the ballot, finding the statement to be unfair and insufficient. Judge Joyce was, reportedly, especially troubled by the phrase "Voter Protection Act" in the summary, though it never actually appeared in the amendment itself. The measure was sent back to the Legislature with Judge Joyce saying, "Because significant changes are required here and policy choices may need to be made as to how to reallocate the words in a revised summary statement, the court chooses to vacate the summary statement and to provide the General Assembly an opportunity to revise it."[191]

The complete ruling can be found here.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan responded to the ruling saying, "The court decision finding that legislators wrote insufficient and unfair ballot language is a victory for voters’ rights. I am pleased the judge saw through this deceptive attempt to trick Missourians into thinking this proposal is about passing a Voter Protection Act."[192]

Case can be read here.

Missouri Public Prayer Amendment (August 2012)

Madeline Coburn et al v. Robert N. Mayer et al.

On July 7, 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed a lawsuit challenging the wording of the ballot summary. The legal challenge called for the summary to be rewritten or for the measure to be removed from the 2012 statewide ballot.[193]

Specifically, the lawsuit challenged that the summary was misleading because it did not mention that students could use the amendment to avoid homework assignments or that the measure would "remove any state constitutional protection of religious expression or liberty for prisoners in state or local custody."[91]

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a minister in the United Methodist Church who was a spiritual advisor to inmates in the Missouri Department of Corrections and an associate professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.[91]

Measure upheld

On March 29, Missouri Judge Pat Joyce upheld the prayer amendment's summary, allowing the measure to remain on the ballot.[194]

Missouri Payday Loan Initiative (2012)

John Prentzler v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.

A lawsuit was filed on August 18, 2011 in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argued that the ballot summary was "inadequate and unfair." Additionally, the suit noted that the cost estimate did not address all possible costs.[195]

The plaintiff was John Prentzler, director of auto operations at AutoStart USA. Prentzler was represented by Kansas City attorney Todd Graves and Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield.[94]

Specifically, the lawsuit highlighted that the lengthier fiscal note attached to the measure outlined a gloomier economic impact than what was outlined in the ballot language. State estimates said that the measure could have cost the state between $2.5 - $3.5 million, however, plaintiffs pointed to a report by a University of Missouri economics professor and former director of the Show-Me Institute that argued that the impact could have been approximately $57 million in the first year had the measure been approved.[94]

A second lawsuit was filed on August 19, 2011 in Cole County Circuit Court. Contrary to the lawsuit filed by critics of the measure, the second lawsuit was filed by proponents. They argued that the fiscal note ignored testimony by state and local agencies that found that the proposed measure would have had no cost on their budgets. Additionally, the suit noted that the fiscal note relied on the expertise of a someone who has testified against the regulations in the past.[196]

On April 5, 2012 Judge Dan Green ruled that the ballot summary and financial estimate for the initiative were "inadequate" and "unfair" and "likely to deceive petition signers." Specifically, Green noted that the summary, prepared by the Missouri Secretary of State's office, should have include that the measure would limit annualized interest rates to 36 percent on short-term loans. Additionally, the fiscal note, Green said, underestimated the potential loss of tax revenues. The fiscal note was prepared by the Missouri Auditor's office.[96]

In response to the ruling, supporters said that they planned to continue collecting petition signatures.[96]

The Missouri Secretary of State stated a plan to appeal the ruling.[197]

However, after both lawsuits were filed, it was found in August 2012 that the initiative effort had not collected enough signatures to even be considered for the ballot.[198]

Missouri Judicial Appointment Amendment (2012)

Legislator lawsuit

The ballot summary of the measure was under scrutiny, with legislative figures who support the measure stating that the summary, provided by the Missouri Secretary of State, was misleading to voters. A subsequent lawsuit was filed with Cole County Circuit Court.[100]

Sen. Jim Lembke (R-1), who sponsored the measure, stated about the Missouri Secretary of State's measure summary, "She misuses her power to manipulate the process, and I believe that this is more evidence that she's been a dishonest broker of partisan politics."

However, Secretary of State spokesman Ryan Hobart stated about controversies surrounding 2012 ballot measure summaries, "This office has always followed our legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot initiatives, and this summary is no different."[100]

The court ruled in favor of the secretary's office, stating, "We are pleased with the Cole County Circuit Court’s decision today regarding Constitutional Amendment 3 (SJR 51). The secretary of state's office has a legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot measures. The judge’s decision supports our position that the summary drafted by our office meets that legal standard."[199]

Nevada

Nevada Mining Tax Cap Amendment (2012)

Nevada Mining Association v. Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes

The Nevada Mining Association filed a lawsuit in state court in Carson City during late-February 2012, attempting to block the measure from the ballot. The association stated that the measure was misleading and failed to describe the consequences to Nevada's overall tax structure if enacted by voters.[200]

On March 14, 2012, District Judge James Wilson ruled that the initiative could proceed to collect signatures as written. Wilson, while dismissing arguments made by the Nevada Mining Association, stated: "The court concludes [the measure's language] is not clearly invalid."[201] The case has been appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

  • Documents in the appeal can be found here.

Nevada Casino Tax Amendment (2012)

Nevada Resort Association v. Nevadans For 9% Gambling Revenue Tax, Inc.

The Nevada Resort Association filed a lawsuit on February 29, 2012 in order to block the initiative petition. The lawsuit was filed in Carson City District Court, stating that the petition was misleading to voters. Specifically, reports stated that the group asked Judge James Todd Russell to stop initiative organizers from collecting signatures.[202]

On April 12, 2012, Russell threw out the petition, stating that language used by supporters didn't properly explain the impacts of the measure if enacted. Supporters had the option to refile the measure with the Nevada Secretary of State's office.[203]

Ohio

Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2012)

State ex rel. Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage v. DeWine

On April 10, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court, challenging the same-sex marriage amendment's summary language. The group argued (1) that the summary is too long to qualify as a summary and (2) that the summary misrepresents the amendment. On April 27, defendent and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.[204]

During the week of May 2, 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine requested that the Ohio Supreme Court dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the court has no jurisdiction over the pre-certification process for a proposed constitutional amendment.[205]

On May 25, 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit. According to reports, court justices voted 5-2 to dismiss the case. Justices Terrence O'Donnell and Robert Cupp were the two justices who voted to not dismiss the lawsuit.[206]

  • Documents for the case can be found here.

Ohio Redistricting Amendment (2012)

Voters First v. The Ohio Ballot Board

The coalition in favor of the amendment, Voters First, filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court on August 23, 2012 that challenged the ballot wording formulated by the Ohio Ballot Board.

According to the lawsuit, the group challenged that the wording wasn't fair or accurate. The lawsuit asked the court to reconvene the board to come up with new language or to have the high court write the language instead of the board.

The formal title of the court case was State ex rel. Voters First, Ann Henkener, Samuel Gresham, Jr., Ellis Jacobs, Richard Gunther, and Dan Tokaji v. The Ohio Ballot Board and Hon. Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled during the week of September 11, 2012 that the wording of the measure was "defective" and "misleads voters." As a result, the ballot language that would be placed in front of voters was ordered to be rewritten.[207]

On September 13, 2012, the Ohio Ballot Board met to change the description in order to comply with the high court's orders. That same day, the ballot language was doubled in length.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma "Personhood" Amendment (2012)

In re Initiative Petition No. 395, State Question No. 761

On March 29, 2012, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, on behalf of multiple Oklahoma doctors and residents, in an attempt to block signature collection for the November 2012 ballot. Those who filed the lawsuit claimed that the ballot initiative is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.[148]

According to Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU's Oklahoma chapter: "Let's save the taxpayers of Oklahoma the time and expense of collecting and verifying signatures, placing this question on the ballot and sending something that we know is unconstitutional to a vote of the people."[148]

On the other side of the argument, Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, commented: "The opponents of personhood will stop at nothing to deny the people of Oklahoma their First Amendment right to petition the government on behalf of the preborn and ultimately recognize the most basic and fundamental human rights of the smallest and most defenseless people group."[148]

On April 30, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the amendment. Although the court did not find the proposed amendement in direct violation of Oklahoma Constitution, the state constitution forbids amendments that conflict with the U.S. Constitution. The court held that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey governed in the case.[208][209]

  • The order in the case can be found here.

Oregon

Oregon Studded Tire Ban Initiative (2012)

Lavey & Taylor v. Kroger

The proposed ballot language was challenged by Dan Lavey and Anna Richter Taylor. Lavey and Taylor work for Gallatin Public Affairs whose clients include Les Schwab, a chain of stores that offer tires, wheels, brakes, shocks, and alignments.[210]

The ballot language was modified in August 2011. On October 6, 2011, the Oregon Supreme Court cleared the ballot language for petition circulation.[211]

  • The court order can be found here.

Campaign contributions

North Dakota

North Dakota Property Tax Amendment, Measure 2 (June 2012)

Empower the Taxpayer, et al. v. Cory Fong, et al.

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Empower the Taxpayer and Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of the initiative campaign, filed a lawsuit against Tax Commissioner Cory Fong (R) and several other top public officials. The lawsuit claimed that these officials are using public money and resources to campaign against Measure 2 and, thereby, violating North Dakota laws that prevent public resources being used for political activity. Robert Hale, a member of Empower the Taxpayer, said, "Elected officials, government entities and organizations funded with taxpayer dollars are actively and intentionally engaged in lies, misrepresentations, deceptions, mischaracterization and fear-mongering." Fong responded to the allegations saying, "I think I was elected as tax commissioner ... to have comments and analysis of important measures that affect our tax system. This measure obviously impacts our overall tax system."[212]

On February 21 District Judge Bruce Romanick denied the plaintiffs' request for a court order telling public officials to stop speaking against the measure. Judge Romanick said the lawsuit provided no sworn statements that back up its allegations, statements which are needed to secure the court order requested.[213]

Judge Romanick set an April 3 hearing for the lawsuit.[214]

The lawsuit was thrown out by Judge Romanick on April 12. The decision was quickly appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court.[215]

The state supreme court took up the case and heard arguments from lawyers during the week of June 4.[216]

  • Romanick's ruling can be found here.

Constitutionality

California

California Proposition 35, Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery (2012)

Federal lawsuit

Immediately following the election, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court, asking that the court to stop from going into effect the provision which required convicted sex offenders to provide internet identifiers to law enforcement. They based the lawsuit on the grounds that the provision violated the United States Constitution.[33]

The day after the election, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevented the internet identifier provision from going into effect, and the temporary injunction was extended on January 11, 2013[34] The injunction applied only to the provision that requires convicted sex offenders to provide their internet identifiers to law enforcement. All other Proposition 35 provisions remained in effect.

The general thrust of the lawsuit was that the provision restricted the free speech and free association rights of registered sex offenders, particularly online. Two anonymous sex offenders were the plaintiffs in the "Joe Doe" lawsuit. One of them said in the suit that, because of the proposition, he would no longer be allowed to participate in online political discussions. The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation helped with the lawsuit because they believe that, when a registered sex offender is unable to participate in online political discussions without revealing his status as a registered sex offender, this amounts to an unconstitutional burden on the free speech and association rights of the sex offender.[34]

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Public Schools Initiative (2012)

Flynn, et al. v. Martha Coakley and William F. Galvin

A lawsuit, submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association with the Massachusetts Supreme Court, was filed on January 21, 2012 against the proposal. The lawsuit complained that the proposal was in violation of the state constitution because it dealt with too many components that are unrelated. The legal challenge would void Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's circulation certification, and therefore would not allow Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin to place it on the ballot.[217]

Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the attorney general, stated about the lawsuit and the initiative certification process: "We make our decision to certify ballot initiatives based purely on the facts and the law and without regard to the attorney general’s policy view on the issue. As we do with all petition decisions we work cooperatively with parties who wish to challenge our rulings. The most important thing is to get the right result."[63]

Montana

Montana Supreme Court Elections Question (June 2012)

Reichert, et al. vs. State

On November 23, 2011, a lawsuit to strike the measure from the ballot was filed by a group state voters which reports say included a handful of 1972 Constitutional Convention delegates. According to the lawsuit, the measure would illegally amend the Montana Constitution. The lawsuit specifically stated: "The referendum is illegal, unconstitutional and void, in that it deprives (voters) of their right to vote for certain Supreme Court candidates."[218] On Monday, January 9, seven, one from each of the proposed judicial districts, Republican legislators filed a motion to intervene in the case with Judge James Reynolds. They asked the court to allow them to keep the measure on the ballot, according to their attorney, Sen. Art Wittich, "The (legislators') voting rights are directly impacted by the disposition of this case. As residents and voters of the proposed seven districts, the intervenors have a substantial interest in the subject matter of this action and should be allowed to intervene." The lawmakers who filed the motion are Sens. Joe Balyeat (R-34), who sponsored the bill, Edward Walker (R-29), and Greg Hinkle (R-7); and Reps. Mark Blasdel (R-10), Ryan Osmundson (R-29), Matthew Rosendale (R-19), and Kelly Flynn (R-68).[219]

On March 20, 2012, Judge Reynolds struck the measure form the ballot as unconstitutional saying that adding the new candidate requirements for Supreme Court justices, those which required candidates live inside proposed regional districts, conflict with what is already in the state constitution. Requests by supporters to simply remove the offending language were denied, with Judge Reynolds saying, "Without clear judicial legislation, this court cannot rewrite the remaining parts of this referendum. To do so would entail completely rewriting the title, the ballot statement, the statements of implication, and the text of the referendum itself. There is no constitutional or statutory authority for such a revision."[104]

The state appealed the decision to the Montana Supreme Court on Friday, April 6. The Montana Attorney General’s Office asked the state Supreme Court to reverse the ruling because a lawsuit on the subject was "unripe," stating in a brief, "LR-119 is not presently in effect, and may never become law."[220]

In a 6-to-1 ruling delivered on Thursday, April 12, the state Supreme Court upheld Judge Reynolds's March decision. However, the ruling was on the request expedited appeal due to the June 5 date the measure is supposed to appear on the ballot. Reportedly, Sen. Balyeat expressed the opinion that all of the sitting Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves due to their interest in the outcome.[221]

  • Documents in the case can be found here.

Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure (2012)

Montana AFL-CIO v. Montana Attorney General

On October 5, 2011, four labor groups asked District Judge Kathy Seeley to remove the measure from the ballot. The groups stated that the bill was unconstitutional because it was an inappropriate appropriation of money by legislative referendum. The groups that filed the lawsuit were MEA-MFT, the Montana AFL-CIO, Montana Public Employees Association, Montana Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Montana Council 9. The last group is not a labor union.[222]

During the week of November 4, 2011, the Montana Attorney General's office asked Seeley to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the matter should be discussed after voters have their say on the matter. According to Assistant Attorney General Andrew Huff: "LR-123 is not clearly unconstitutional on its face and should proceed to a vote, consistent with judicial deference to the people’s authority in the referendum context."[223]

On Thursday, February 16, public employee unions asked District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock to bar the proposal from the ballot, arguing that the measure would unconstitutionally grant powers of appropriation every time the proposed conditions were met. John Morrison, a former state auditor, said the measure would allow for a large degree of human error. The state attorney general's office requested that the case be dismissed. Andy Huff, Assistant Attorney General, said, "It is rare that these initiatives and referendums are struck down. It is only when there is procedural problem or gross constitutional problems with the bill." Morrison asked that Judge Sherlock ruled fairly quickly so that the losing side had time to appeal before the election in November.[224]

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Judge Sherlock ruled that the ballot measure did not represent an illegal appropriation of money by ballot issue. However, the challenge to the measure was not over yet, Judge Sherlock still had to rule on whether or not the measure constitutes an illegal delegation of power.[225]

On Tuesday, June 7, 2012, Judge Sherlock ruled the measure unconstitutional and disqualified it from appearing on the ballot. Sherlock ruled that the measure was an unconstitutional delegation of power by the Legislature to an employee, saying, "Everyone, including the undersigned, would like to see a tax credit or refund. The Legislature could do so itself or could properly delegate this function to an executive agency. However the Legislature cannot delegate its power to one of its employees."[226]

On Friday, June 22, the state appealed the case to the Montana Supreme Court. Attorney General Steve Bullock, representing the state in the case, argued that voters should be allowed to vote on the ballot measure before a court decides on whether it is legal or not.[227]

North Dakota

North Dakota University "Fighting Sioux" Referendum, Measure 4 (June 2012)

North Dakota State Board of Higher Education V. Jaeger

On Monday, February 14, 2012, North Dakota's Board of Higher Education voted to file a lawsuit aimed at keeping the referendum off the ballot. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) said the North Dakota Supreme Court will weigh in on the dispute quickly, and that the court invoked it's original jurisdiction before to hear high profile cases before and do so this case.[228][229]

The court asked the referendum's sponsoring committee if it wanted to respond as well. Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) was the defendant.[230] Secretary Jaeger hired attorneys Sarah Andrews Herman and Matthew Kipp of Fargo to represent his office in the suit.[231]

Hearings for the case were held in an hour long session before the state Supreme Court on Thursday, March 15, 2012, with both sides receiving tough questioning. Justices questioned the board on the reasons for their tardiness in seeking court action, Justice Daniel Crothers asked, "That harm has been there since the statute was passed almost a year ago... Why now? Why in the face of a referral?" The court was also critical of the defense's claims that regulating the nickname and logo were within the legislature's constitutional rights. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said the state's arguments were so broad that it "would consume the constitutional authority of the board, if the Legislature wanted to do it."[232]

On April 3, the state Supreme Court delivered a ruling refusing to block the referendum from the June ballot.[233]

  • The Supreme Court's ruling can be found here.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Casino Gambling Amendment (2012)

Narragansett Indian Tribe v. Rhode Island

The Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island Superior Court on September 28, 2011, asking that the court declare the 2012 measure unconstitutional. The lawsuit referred to the tribe's own efforts to place a similar measure on the ballot in the past, where the court ruled that the tribe's proposal was unconstitutional due to the provision stating: "All lotteries shall be prohibited in the State except lotteries operated by the State."[234]

The lawsuit stated that Twin River was not being held to the same legal standard as the previous efforts by the Narragansett. The plaintiff's petition in the case can be found here.

The court set May 30 for hearing oral arguments. Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle commented on the announcement saying, "We're extremely pleased that the court is moving quickly to resolve the lawsuit. The constitutionality of Twin River Casino and their role as a state-operated casino has been recognized in two Supreme Court rulings, and we feel there is no merit to this latest legal challenge."[235]

Another casino measure made the ballot in 2012, the Newport Grand Casino Amendment, which became a part of the lawsuit when it was certified to appear on the ballot in April 2012.

On June 29, 2012, Superior Court Judge Melanie Thunberg ruled that the two measures could stay on the ballot.[236]

Circulators

Maryland

Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (2012)

Doe v. Maryland State Board of Elections

On August 1, 2011 Casa de Maryland filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the proposed measure. The lawsuit argued that more than half of the collected petition signatures were collected illegally.[237]

Specifically, plaintiffs argued two points. The process of collecting signatures was ripe for fraud considering that signers used a website, MDPetitions.com, to download and print voter information. "If I know your birth date and where you live, your ZIP code, assuming you live in Maryland, I can put in your name, the computer program will print out a form with everybody’s name who lives in that household who is registered to vote. I can sign your name and have other people sign those other names, and no one would know the difference because the signatures aren’t checked against anything," said Joseph Sandler, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney working for Casa of Maryland.[55]

Neil Parrott, chairman of the petition group, said, "This fraud that they’re saying could exist has always existed in every petition drive. What they’re saying is there are not petitions that could exist in Maryland."[55]

Additionally, plaintiffs argued that the state tuition law cannot be subject to referendum because the Maryland Constitution prohibited referendums on laws that maintain or aid a public institution.[238]

On September 22, 2011 Judicial Watch announced it would represent the organizers of the petition drive. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "There is no question that the Maryland DREAM Act should be put to a referendum. The illegal immigration lobby simply wants to keep Maryland voters from having their say on the issue."[239]

A motions hearing was scheduled for the end of January.

On December 8, 2011 it was announced that the challenge against the petition signatures collected by MDPetitions.com was dropped. However, the challenge of whether the law was subject to veto referendum remained pending.[240]

Sandler, attorney working for Casa of Maryland, said, "This is exactly the kind of law that Maryland keeps off the ballot because it leads to disruption of Maryland programs, which is exactly what is happening here." In response to the continued challenge, Delegate Patrick McDonough, who helped lead the petition effort, said the act is not an appropriations bill because it does not set spending within the state budget. "We felt from the beginning that was their weakest argument. And it seems to me that it’s their last desperate position that they have," he said.[241]

A hearing was held on Friday, January 27, in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court before Judge Ronald A. Silkworth. At the hearing both sides asked Judge Silkworth to rule on the legal matters of the lawsuit without holding a trial, saying it is only the interpretation of the law that is being contested, not the facts of the case.[242]

On Friday, February 17, Judge Silkworth ruled that the Dream Act does, in fact, meet the requirements for legislation that can be subject to a referendum. According to the Maryland Constitution, fiscal appropriations are not subject to referendum, however, Judge Silkworth ruled that the costs of the bill are incidental and not its main intent.[243]

Deadlines

Arkansas Casino Amendment (2012)

Michael Wasserman's challenge

On August 3, 2012, Michael Wasserman, sponsor of one of the two proposed casino amendments, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court stating that elections officials should have given him more time to collect additional signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. Previously, Wasserman's petition drive did not collect enough valid signatures by the petition drive deadline in early July 2012.[244]

It's not unprecedented for the Arkansas Secretary of State to allow additional time for initiative organizers to collect signatures, however, reports said that Wasserman didn't meet a requirement that signatures from at least 15 counties equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's election.

The lawsuit argued that the 15-county rule should not apply since the campaign turned in more than 78,133 signatures, although not all were valid.

On September 20, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the lawsuit's arguments, therefore denying Wasserman's request for more time to collect additional signatures. Wasserman's measure remained on the ballot for 2012, but votes were not counted[245]

Fiscal summary

Missouri

Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)

Allred v. Carnahan

In mid-November 2011, Kansas City restaurant owner Victor Allred filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argued that the cost estimates for the proposed initiatives were insufficient and unfair. According to reports, the Missouri Restaurant Association endorsed Allred's challenge.[246]

On April 26, 2012 Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum rejected the challenge, therefore upholding the ballot measure and its summary.[247]

Then on May 18, 2012, Beetum ruled that the financial statement of the ballot measure was invalid. Beetum ruled that the state auditor, who prepared the estimate, had no authority to do so for ballot measures. This echoed his ruling earlier in 2012 that had bigger implications to the state's initiative process.[81]

Although that ruling was overturned by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the measure did not have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.

Missouri Municipal Police Amendment (2012)

=====St. Louis Police Officers' Association v. Missouri Secretary of State, et al.=====' On March 24, 2011 officers of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association filed a lawsuit in Cole County against the proposed measure. The challenge specifically questioned the measure's summary and financial estimate.[85] The suit argued that the summary was unfair and misleading. The cost summary, prepared by Auditor Thomas Schweich (R), they argued was based "solely" on information provided by Mayor Francis Slay, a proponent of the proposed changes. The filed lawsuit added that the fiscal statement didn't include expenses like increased legal fees.[248]

The measure was subsequently placed on the ballot after a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that decided that the state auditor had the constitutional right to prepare the financial summaries of the measures.

The ruling ended what was a tangled web in the state initiative process that began with a simple legal challenge to a potential tobacco tax initiative.

Labor practices

Motivation of sponsors

Colorado

Colorado Personhood Amendment (2012)

Durgin v. Lozano

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, requesting to block the measure's supporters from placing it on the ballot. The appeal was filed on January 9, 2012, weeks after the Colorado Title Board approved the language of the measure, and allowing for circulation of initiative petitions.[249]

On March 7, 2012, the state supreme court ruled that the measure could move forward with signature collection. The court ruled in a unanimous decision. Both sides of the measure chimed in, with Planned Parenthood, the group who filed the lawsuit, having spokeswoman Monica McCafferty state the following: "We are disappointed, but not surprised. We are gearing up for a third campaign. So far we've been successful in educating voters on how dangerous this measure is — restricting a woman's ability to make personal, private decisions about her own body."[250]

Attorney Gualberto Garcia Jones, who represented proponents Personhood Colorado: "The unanimous decision by the Colorado Supreme Court proved that there is no question that this is a single-subject issue and ready to go before the voters."

  • The ruling in the case can be found here.

Post-certification removal

Redistricting

Single-subject rule

Arizona

Arizona "Open Government Act" Initiative (2012)

Maricopa County Court Case

On July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with Maricopa County Superior Court aimed at blocking the measure from the ballot. The lawsuit against the measure was filed by opponents of the measure, who were represented by Attorney Michael Liburdi. Liburdi claimed the initiative had "a legion of unintended consequences." Liburdi said that the proposal violates the state's single-subject rule.[251]

The initiative's campaign spokesman Joe Yuhas said the lawsuit would fail because the residents who signed the petition were entitled to have a say on the measure.

Arguments were heard during the week of July 30, 2012.[252]

On August 6, 2012, the court ruled that the measure should not be placed on the ballot because a provision in the measure violated the state's single-subject law.[253]

Judge Mark Brain stated that there was no reason why a prohibition on public funding for party activities should be included in the initiative.

The Open Government Committee, who supported the initiative, appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on August 7, 2012. On August 17, 2012, the high court ruled, without comment, that the measure be placed on the ballot, if enough signatures were found to be collected by the petition drive, which they were.[254][255]

Nevada

Nevada Harrah's Sports Arena Initiative (2012)

Taxpayers for Protection of Nevada Jobs v. Arena Initiative Committee

Single-subject challenge

On September 21, 2010 District Judge James Todd Russell upheld the proposed initiative petition. Taxpayers for Protection of Nevada Jobs argued that the proposed initiative violated the "single-subject rule" and thus the petition should be declared invalid. However, the judge ruled that the organization's lawyer Scott Scherer did not prove a violation of the "single-subject rule."[256] The case was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Challenge to invalidate signatures

On December 15, 2010 the Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs filed a lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court alleging that there had been fraud and misconduct in the gathering of petition signatures. Specifically, the lawsuit aimed to invalidate the collected signatures.[121]

The lawsuit argued that the petition circulation process was tainted by fraudulent behavior by engaging in the use of false advertisements. For example, the lawsuit pointed to the use of pervasive lies about the details of the initiative (including the location of the proposed arena) and false statements about who circulated the petitions and obtained the signatures.[121]

On February 3, 2011, District Court Judge Todd Russell declined to block the measure from being presented to the opening of Legislature, as requested by the lawsuit. The lawsuit sought to block the measure from legislative review until March when the judge rules whether or not fraudulent signatures appeared on the petition. Opponents argued that the initiative effort will not have obtained enough signatures if the judge confirms and tosses out the alleged fraudulent signatures.

Russell suggested there were enough signatures for the measure to be placed on the ballot on April 7, 2011. On that day, Russell ordered attorneys to submit closing briefs, and stated he would soon rule on whether or not any "minor errors" or other circumstances invalidated the petition and the initiative's ballot status. He also claimed there were "interesting issues" in the case.[257]

Judge Todd Russell ruled on May 9, 2011 that the initiative did indeed gather enough signatures to advance to the ballot. According to the ruling Russell stated that the opponents who filed the lawsuit double counted invalid signatures. He also tossed the argument by the plaintiffs that the county clerks allegedly inflated signatures counts. According to reports, the plaintiffs, Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs, had the option to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, which the group was considering. As expected, the appeal was filed with the state high court during the week of May 16, 2011.[258][259]

Supreme Court consolidates cases

On May 20, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court consolidated the two appeals into a single case. The order consolidating the cases can be found here.

Supreme Court considers appeal

During an opening brief on July 18, 2011 in the state high court, Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada argued: “During the signature-gathering process, petition circulators used fraudulent means to obtain signatures, including providing false and misleading information about the location and the initiative benefits and detriments to induce people to sign the petition."[260]

  • Documents in the appeal can be found here.

On March 7, 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments from both sides of the measure. Justices questioned whether or not the initiative violated the court's ruling in 2011 that ruled that the state constitution prohibited local laws that supersede general state law.[261]

  • Audio of the oral arguments can be found here.

Ruling

On June 20, 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered that the wording of the initiative had to be changed in order for it to appear on the November ballot. The measure's impacts, according to reports, would not be changed and the initiative does not have to be circulated again, however. According to the 7-0 ruling, "Because it fails to reveal the ramifications to the competing arena proposals and fails to inform voters of the precise location of the proposed arena, we conclude the initiative's description of effect is deceptive and materially misleading."[262]

Ohio

Ohio "Personhood" Initiative (2013)

Healthy Families Ohio, Inc. v. Ohio Ballot Board

In March of 2012, a lawsuit was filed against the initiative effort. The lawsuit was filed by Healthy Families Ohio, who argued that the measure addressed two subjects and should have been split into two separate measures. However, proponents argued that the goal of the initiative was to ban abortion in the state of Ohio, and nothing else. The Ohio Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit on March 21. According to Personhood Ohio spokesman Dr. Patrick Johnston: "They were trying to derail our petition process. We're trying to gather signatures to put a personhood amendment on the ballot in Ohio, which will end all abortion, protect every unborn child. And, of course, as you can imagine, they're doing everything they can to keep it off the ballot. They don't want Ohioans to vote on this issue."[263]

  • Documents in the case can be found here.

Signature challenges

Michigan

Michigan Emergency Manager Referendum (2012)

Stand Up for Democracy v. Michigan State Board of Canvassers

Stand Up for Democracy appeared before the Michigan Court of Appeals on May 17, 2012. The group argued that the Board of State Canvassers unjustly denied the referendum ballot access with a politically motivated vote. The board had a split vote on the issue with the two Republican members voting to keep it off the ballot because they deemed the print on the petitions to be too small. Stand Up for Democracy went before the court essentially arguing that it was the proper size.[264]

On June 8 a three-judge panel from the court of appeals ruled on the case deciding that the measure should appear on the ballot. The court said it reached its decision based on a precedent set by an earlier case which said a technical violation such as the wrong font size shouldn't keep a question off the ballot. In spite of the court's decision, however, this did not mean the emergency manager law was suspended until November. That would not take place until the State Board of Canvassers met and certified the measure, in response to the court's ruling.[265]

Upon receiving an appeal of the Court of Appeal's ruling by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for July 25.[266]

On August 3, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court decided 4-3 to keep the referendum on the ballot.[267]

Arizona

Arizona "Open Government Act" Initiative (2012)

Open Government Committee v. Ken Bennett

On August 24, 2012, a lawsuit was filed by the Open Government Committee after Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office disqualified more than 100,000 signatures on initiative petitions leading to the measure's exclusion from the 2012 ballot.

Supporters of the measure stated that the secretary's office used an incorrect formula to calculate the results of the random sample and that Maricopa County officials invalidated signatures that should have been counted.

A hearing occurred on August 28, 2012.

A counter lawsuit was filed by opponents of the measure asking for the measure to be kept off of the ballot.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea ruled on August 31, 2012 that the measure be placed on the ballot.[268]

However, challengers stated they wanted another two hours to make their case in court. Attorney Mike Liburdi told the Arizona Supreme Court on September 4, 2012 that he was "cut off" by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea in the middle of his arguments. According to Liburdi, "Given the magnitude of the controversy -- a proposed constitutional amendment that will fundamentally change the manner in which public officers are elected -- it was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion not to provide (challengers) with more time to present their case."[269]

The Arizona Supreme Court finally made a ruling on the case on September 7, 2012 allowing the measure to appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot.[270]

Missouri

Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)

Post-disqualification lawsuit

Groups in support of both the Payday Loan Initiative and the Minimum Wage Initiative filed lawsuits in Cole County claiming that a number of valid petition signatures were not counted following the disqualification of petitions. The lawsuits followed the state's findings that the petitions for the measures contained an insufficient number of valid names.[271]

Missouri Payday Loan Initiative (2012)

Post-disqualification lawsuit

Groups in support of both the Payday Loan Initiative and the Minimum Wage Initiative filed lawsuits in Cole County claiming that a number of valid petition signatures were not counted following the disqualification of petitions. The lawsuits followed the state's findings that the petitions for the measures contained an insufficient number of valid names.[272]

Voter guide

Colorado

Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2012)

Blue book lawsuit

Proponents of the measure filed a lawsuit to delay the printing of 2012's ballot information booklet, also known as the blue book.

According to reports, the booklet was sent to voters in the state to provide details on ballot measures that are on the general election ballot. According to supporters of Amendment 64, the lawsuit argued that the legislative committee struck final draft key language in the section describing arguments in support of the initiative.[273]

However, on September 13, 2012, the lawsuit was dismissed by Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt due to what reports say was a "jurisdictional issue."[274]

NOTE: The following tab shows a list of lawsuits, by state, that were filed in 2012 against past statewide ballot measures.

California

California Proposition 9, Marsy's Law (2008)

On January 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ruled in the class-action lawsuit case Valdivia v. Brown (S-94-671 LKK) that the part of the Victims' Bill of Rights created under Proposition 9 which govern parole revocation was unconstitutional. Karlton stated that the parole revocation laws, which had been codified in the state penal code, in part violated minimum due process provided by the constitution and affirmed under two U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 (Morrissey v. Brewer) and 1973 (Gagnon v. Scarpell). The law was also found to violate certain rights to a lawyer and rights to a neutral and detached hearing body. While several provisions were upheld, Karlton ruled that they could not stand alone and therefore struck down the entire parole revocation law.[275][276][277]

  • The ruling can be found here.

California Proposition 11, Creation of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (2008)

In January of 2012, the California Supreme Court declared in the opinion of Vandermost v. Bowen (S198387) that the State Senate redistricting maps generated by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission pursuant to 2008's Proposition 11 must be used throughout the elections of 2012, even if it ultimately turns out that the Referendum Challenging the State Senate Maps qualifies for the ballot--which it did.[278]

  • More information on the ruling can be found here.

California Affirmative Action, Proposition 209 (1996)

In April of 2012, a three-judge panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutional law created by Proposition 209 in the case of Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Brown (11-15100). After the passing of Proposition 209, the University of California system was forced to end its affirmative action program. The plaintiffs argued that while the University system could give admission preference based on factors such as military service, income, geographical background, athletic ability, and legacy, not giving preference to race to promote diversity and fight inequality and racial segregation violated equal protection rights. The court cited a 1997 ruling in upholding the law.[279][280]

  • The ruling can be found here.

NOTE: This tab includes lawsuits filed against proposed 2012 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.

California

  • A lawsuit was filed to prevent the opponents of Davis Joint Unified School District parcel tax, Measure C from making arguments in the official ballot pamphlet against the process of using an all mail-in ballot election. This lawsuit failed. On January 23, 2012, Judge Samuel McAdam wrote in his ruling, "Granda is well within his right to challenge the mail-in procedure in the Argument against attacking both the substance and the process of the parcel tax issue. In other words, the substance and the procedure of any election are inherently relevant to each other. The voters will decide whether his opinion and argument have any merit."[281]

  • A lawsuit was filed in February 2012 to remove the San Diego Pension Reform Initiative, Proposition B (June 2012) from the ballot on the grounds that two elected city officials spoke in favor of it and that therefore, although sponsored by private citizens, it runs afoul of the city's so-called "meet-and-confer provision". That provision in the city's labor contracts requires the city to meet-and-confer with designated public sector union representatives when a change to the city's labor agreements is under consideration. Since a "meet-and-confer" meeting did not take place and would have had to take place (according to a February ruling of the California Public Employee Relations Board), the existence of the initiative may amount to an unfair labor practice.[148] According to Joan Raymond, the president of AFSCME Local 127 in San Diego, "(The ruling) adds credence to what we've been saying all along during this initiative process, that it is a city-sponsored initiative and there is no way Sanders was acting as a private citizen."[148] Carl DeMaio, a supporter of the initiative, said, "I am completely confident that the courts will dismiss this desperate lawsuit and uphold the constitutionally protected right of citizens to place measures on the ballot through the initiative process."[148] The court ordered that the election take place. After the election, unions went into court and asked that Proposition B be judicially invalidated because of the so-called "meet and confer" provision. On July 31, 2012, San Diego Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas denied the union request for an injunction to postpone the city’s implementation of Proposition B. Vargas ruled that the whatever the city's "meet and confer" obligations were, it had met them.[282]

  • A lawsuit was filed on March 15, 2012 by Robin Johansen of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell seeking to remove the San Jose Pension Reform Question from the city's June 5, 2012 ballot on the grounds that the ballot question is misleadingly prejudicial in favor of a "yes" vote. Johansen's complaint says, "The code says it has to be fair and impartial, not an argument for the measure. When you look at the kinds of emotionally laden words -- reform and abuse, essential services -- those are very strongly worded phrases intended to get people to vote for the measure."[148]

  • The City of Costa Mesa filed a lawsuit against Orange County in mid-March 2012. The city filed its ballot language for a proposed city charter proposition with the county a day late. The city asks that the county nevertheless place the measure on the June 5, 2012 ballot. The county clerk is filing a statement with the court in favor of the complaint. Groups in Costa Mesa that oppose the city charter change have chosen not to contest the issue of whether it goes on the June 5, 2012 ballot or, because it was technically filed a day late, the November 6, 2012 ballot.[283]

  • U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled in March 2012 that for the purposes of sponsoring and circulating petitions in California, corporations do not have that as a core right: "The state constitution makes clear that this initiative power belongs to people. Neither corporations nor unincorporated associations are mentioned." This ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs and Fair Competition and the Associated Builders & Contractors Inc. against Chula Vista. The lawsuit was filed because the City of Chula Vista had not allowed the groups to be the official proponents of a measure to ban Project Labor Agreements.[284]

  • Steve Nelson filed a lawsuit that sought to force a change in the way the Mountain View Whisman School District describes Measure G. Nelson said in his lawsuit that the school district "was trying to scare the public into supporting the measure by overstating the risk of asbestos and lead at district schools." Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Kevin McKenney denied Nelson's motion, saying that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence in support of his claim.[285]

  • A complaint was filed against the City of Temecula claiming that city officials disenfranchised petition signers on a petition for term limits in the City of Temecula by erroneously disqualifying signatures on the petition.[286]

The lawsuit against putting the measure on the ballot was successful at the Superior (trial) court level, but an appellate court overturned that lower court ruling in early September and ordered that the measure appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot. Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia removed the item from the ballot, saying that traffic laws are of statewide concern in a way that prevents local jurisdictions from taking their own specific position on traffic issues. Acting Presiding Justice Art McKinster of the Fourth District Court of Appeal wrote the opinion that overturned Judge Ottolia's decision. McKinster wrote, "it is usually more appropriate to review constitutional and other challenges to ballot propositions or initiative measures after an election rather than to disrupt the electoral process by preventing the exercise of the people’s franchise, in the absence of some clear showing of invalidity.”[287]


The Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association sought to have the Santa Clara County Sales Tax Increase, Measure A removed from the November 6, 2012 ballot. They wrote a 7-page letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in early August arguing that California state law (specifically, Proposition 218 from 1996) requires that when a local unit of government wants to place a "general tax measure" on the ballot, they must do so at an election that coincides with a scheduled election of local candidates relevant to the unit of government that seeks the tax. In this case, that would mean an election pertaining to county supervisors. However, there is no such election on the November 6, 2012 ballot and therefore, according to the SVTA, the sales tax measure should have been removed from the ballot until such time as there is an election of county supervisors.[148]

Lori Pegg, the acting County Counsel for Santa Clara County, responded to the 7-page letter, saying that in her opinion, the county "fully considered the points raised in your correspondence prior to placing Measure A on the ballot and we are confident that, if challenged, a court would conclude the county is in full compliance with Proposition 218."[148]

The SVTA then filed a lawsuit to remove Measure A from the ballot. Superior Court Judge Kevin McKenney ruled in favor of the county, writing that the contested language "on its face refers only to the type of election for which a tax measure may appear on a ballot. No reference is made ... to a requirement that a candidate for the governing body of the local government actually be on the ballot in order to effectuate compliance."[288]


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See also