Emineth v. Jaeger

Emineth v. Jaeger

The Center for Competitive Politics filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, challenging a state ban on “electioneering on election day.” The complaint states that the ban, which prohibits all election-day attempts to “induce or persuade” any North Dakota resident to vote a particular way, is a prior restraint on speech and unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Plaintiff Gary Emineth, a citizen of North Dakota, wished to display yard signs, distribute flyers in public places, and discuss the November 6, 2012 election on election day.  Because a North Dakota law banned these activities, CCP’s Legal Team submitted motions for permanent and preliminary injunction against the ban’s enforcement, setting forth its legal arguments in an accompanying memorandum of law.

Allen Dickerson, CCP Legal Director, noted “North Dakota’s blanket prohibition, on its face, criminalizes the mere act of discussing a favored candidate with friends and neighbors, or failing to remove a yard sign. The state has no legitimate interest in banning these activities, and the First Amendment does not permit it to do so.”

Calling the law “clearly invalid,” a federal judge in North Dakota ruled that the state’s 100-year-old ban on election-day campaigning is unconstitutional.

Judge Daniel L. Hovland of the U.S. District Court for North Dakota ruled that the ban “imposes a prior restraint on protected speech” and “is an unreasonable restraint on constitutionally-protected speech.”  He noted that “[o]ne can hardly conceive of a statute less narrowly tailored than a blanket prohibition on all election-related speech.” The Court went on to find “no valid justification for the law in modern day society, nor any compelling state interest offered to support its continued existence.”

Case Documents

District Court for the District of North Dakota

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.