CCP Files Election-Day Free Speech Challenge in North Dakota

October 16, 2012   •  By Sarah Lee
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CONTACT: Sarah Lee, Communications Director, 770.598.7961

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Center for Competitive Politics filed a lawsuit today 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, wishes to display yard signs, distribute flyers in public places, and discuss the November 6, 2012 election on election day.

Because North Dakota bans such behavior on the day of the election, the CCP Legal Team filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. Emineth. Unless the Court rules in his favor, Mr. Emineth will not engage in constitutionally-protected speech because of his reasonable fear that state officials will enforce the ban against him.

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.”

Mr. Emineth seeks a permanent injunction against enforcement of the ban and a declaration that the Ban is facially unconstitutional. In the alternative, Mr. Emineth seeks a declaration that the ban is unconstitutional as applied to him and his desired activities.

CCP has asked that the North Dakota District Court to expedite its consideration of the case due to the impending election. A copy of the complaint can be accessed here.


Sarah Lee

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