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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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9th Circuit Revives Calif. Election Law Challenge

(CN) - The 9th Circuit on Wednesday revived the Los Angeles County Libertarian Party's challenge to California's election code.

The federal appeals court in Pasadena found that the group has standing to fight a law requiring gatherers of nomination signatures to reside in the same political district as the candidate for whom they are working.

In a pre-enforcement action, the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County, Theodore Brown and Christopher Agrella sued the California Secretary of State, alleging that such residency requirements violate the First and 14th Amendments. The party claimed that it wants to use so-called "circulators" who reside in other counties and would do so but for fear of criminal penalties.

While there is no history of past prosecutions or enforcement of the challenged provisions by the Secretary of State, the defendant "has communicated a specific warning or threat of enforcement" on the state's election website, according to the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez dismissed the case in Los Angeles, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the provisions. In a unanimous reversal on Wednesday, a three-judge appellate panel found otherwise.

"Plaintiffs have alleged a sufficient injury-in-fact to meet constitutional standing requirements," wrote Judge Susan Graber for the panel.

The panel also found that the plaintiffs have "concrete plans" to either seek office of help a candidate to do so.

"In light of plaintiffs' concrete plan and defendant's specific threat of enforcement, we conclude that plaintiffs have met the constitutional 'case or controversy' requirement'," Graber added.

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