Townley v. Miller

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Standing
  • Date Filed: 07-10-2013
  • Case #: 12-16881; 12-16882
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judges Noonan and Nguyen
  • Full Text Opinion

Plaintiffs lack standing when they do not have a concrete intent to cast a particular vote, when the relief they seek would worsen the position of those intending to vote instead of redressing the injury, or when the alleged injury is not traceable to the challenged conduct.

In June 2012, eleven plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Nev. Rev. Stat. §293.269(2) disenfranchises voters by disregarding ballots cast. Since 1975, Nev. Rev. Stat. §293.269 has allowed voters to show their disapproval of all the named candidates by voting “none of these candidates” (“NOTC”). However, subsection (2) of the statute provides that only votes cast for named candidates are counted. Seven of the plaintiffs were registered voters who “intend[ed] to vote” but did not express an intent to cast a NOTC vote. Two of the plaintiffs expressed intent to cast a NOTC vote. The final two plaintiffs were Republican designees for Presidential electors. The district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction that would prohibit the state to provide NOTC as an option on any ballot. The defendant, the Nevada Secretary of State, appealed, and the Ninth Circuit Panel granted a stay of the injunction pending an appeal. The panel held that the plaintiffs did not have standing. Standing requires the plaintiffs to show at the preliminary injunction phase: (1) they suffered an injury in fact that is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent, (2) that the injury is fairly traceable to the conduct of the defendant, and (3) the injury is redressable. The panel held that the seven plaintiffs who did not express an intent to cast a NOTC vote had not suffered an injury in fact. In addition, the two plaintiffs who did express an intent to cast a NOTC vote did not show that their injury could be redressed by a favorable decision. Finally, the two Republican presidential elector designees failed to show that their injury was fairly traceable to the conduct being challenged. The panel vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of standing. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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