Libertarian Party v. Bowen

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Standing
  • Date Filed: 03-09-2013
  • Case #: 11-55316
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Pregerson and Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to enjoin state election laws and meet constitutional standing in a pre-enforcement action, the plaintiffs must allege both a concrete plan to violate that statute and defendant's specific threat of enforcement.

The Libertarian Party of Los Angeles brought a pre-enforcement action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Secretary of State. At issue were Cal. Elec. Code §§ 8066 and 8451, which mandated that “circulators,” persons who gather signatures from registered voters for a candidate to qualify for nomination, must be registered to vote in the district or political subdivision where they are collecting the signatures. The Libertarian Party alleged that the residency requirement violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and sought to enjoin its enforcement. The district court dismissed, agreeing with the California Secretary of State, who argued that the Libertarian Party lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the statutes. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing on the grounds of standing because the Libertarian Party alleged a sufficient injury-in-fact to meet constitutional standing. Additionally, the panel held that due to the Libertarian Party’s “concrete plan” to violate the statute and Secretary of State’s explicit threat of enforcement, the plaintiffs met the “case or controversy” requirement. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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