Litigation We're Watching

Last Updated 06/2020

California Lawsuits Challenging Executive Order N-64-20. Two separate lawsuits were recently filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California challenging the validity of Executive Order N-64-20. The first suit, Darrell Issa et al. v. Gavin Newsom et al. (Case No. 2:20-CV-01044-MCE-CKD), contends, among other things, that the Executive Order conflicts with various sections of the US Constitution which provide that the times, places and manner of holding elections for members of Congress and presidential electors shall be prescribed by state legislatures. The suit also contends that the Governor exceeded his authority under the Government Code to issue the Executive Order. The second suit, Republican National Committee et al. v. Gavin Newsom et al. (Case No. 2:20-CV-01055-KJM-CKD), also contends, among other things, that the Executive Order similarly conflicts with the US Constitution.

Faithless Elector cases: US Supreme Court heard arguments in May regarding whether an elector pledged to support a particular candidate for President has the constitutional right to decide independently for whom to vote for President under art. II, sec. 1, clause 3 and the 12th Amendment, and whether standing exists after the Electoral College has met and acted, on separation of powers. The cases came from Washington (Chiafalo v. Washington, No. 19-465) and Colorado (Colorado Department of State v. Baca, No. 19-518), where the lower courts reached opposite rulings. Decision expected in June.

DNC v. Hobbs, No. 18-15845. In February, 9th Circuit allowed Arizona ballot harvesting ban to remain in effect while appealed to the US Supreme Court. This follows a ruling in January finding holding the law violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.

ACLU v. Grewal, 19-cv-17807. In March 2020, federal district court permanently enjoined enforcement of New Jersey law requiring extensive disclosure, including of donors of $1,000 or more, by Section 527 and Section 501(c)(4) organizations seeking to influence elections, ballot measures, legislation, regulations, or providing political information, finding the law too broad.

Fish v. Schwab, No. 18-3133. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Kansas cannot require voters to prove US citizenship when registering to vote, holding the requirement violated the 14th Amendment and National Voter Registration Act.

Doctors for a Healthy Montana v. Fox, CV 20-46-M-DLC. District Court in Montana denied request for a preliminary injunction against a Montana law regulating the naming of political action committees. State law requires a committee’s name to clearly identify any economic or special interests of a majority of its contributors.

Multnomah County v. Mehrwein, CC 17CV18006, CA A168205, SC S066445. Oregon Supreme Court reserved its own long-standing precedent, holding that the state constitution does not bar contribution limits. The case was remanded to the lower courts to assess whether the $500 limit in question is too low under US Supreme Court precedent.