Angle v. Miller

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 03-14-2012
  • Case #: 10-16707
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and District Judge Mills
  • Full Text Opinion

Ballot initiative legislation that requires initiative proponents to obtain signatures equal to 10 percent of the registered voters in the prior general election from each of a states congressional districts, does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause or the First Amendment.

Sharron Angle, joined by four individuals and two organizations, filed suit against Ross Miller, Nevada Secretary of State, seeking to declare Nevada’s All District Rule as unconstitutional. The All District Rule required ballot initiative proponents to obtain signatures equal to 10 percent of the registered voters in the prior general election from each of Nevada’s three congressional districts. Both parties filed summary judgment motions and the district court rejected Angle's claims. On appeal, Angle first contended that the All District Rule violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by valuing the votes of some citizens over others and allowing a minority of voters to veto the majority with respect to ballot initiatives. Second, Angle contended that the All District Rule violated the First Amendment by creating an increased burden on individuals trying to place initiatives on the statewide ballot. The Ninth Circuit held that because Nevada’s congressional districts represented equal populations, and the All District Rule served the states interest in ensuring support for ballot initiatives, that it did not violate equal protection. Further, the Court was unable to discern an identifiable class of discriminated against individuals. While the “relatively rural” Second District is able to veto initiatives, the “First and Third Districts are not a discrete or insular minority.” With regard to the First Amendment, the Ninth Circuit held that Plaintiff’s had not shown sufficient evidence that the geographic distribution requirement created a severe burden on initiative proponents seeking signatures. Further, the Ninth Circuit held that because states are permitted “considerable leeway in regulating the electoral process,” Nevada’s decision to require signatures from all three congressional districts was justified and, therefore, not in violation of the First Amendment. AFFIRMED.

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