Justia Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing the petitions for writs of mandamus filed by Minnesota Voters Alliance, et al. (collectively, the Alliance), holding that the Alliance failed to show the violation of a duty clearly established by law.In the mandamus petitions, the Alliance alleged that Ramsey County, Olmsted County, and other entities violated their statutory obligations for appointing members to absentee ballot board during the 2020 general election. Specifically, Alliance argued that the statutory requirements for election judges also apply to deputy county auditors. The district court dismissed the petitions, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the Alliance's mandamus petitions. View "Minnesota Voters Alliance v. County of Ramsey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that certain congressional districts were unconstitutional for purposes of the 2022 primary and general elections, enjoined their use in these elections, and adopted the congressional district boundaries as set forth in Appendices A and B to this order.Two sets of plaintiffs initiated actions in, respectively, Carver County District Court and Ramsey District Court alleging that the current congressional and legislative election districts were unconstitutionally malapportioned in light of the 2020 census. The Chief Justice appointed a panel to hear and decided the consolidated action and any other challenges to the congressional and legislative districts. The Supreme Court held that the existing congressional districts were unconstitutional and adopted the congressional district boundaries as set out in Appendices A and B to this order. View "Wattson v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting Respondents' petition to strike a revised question from the ballot, holding that the district court erred.Respondents filed a petition to correct the language the Minneapolis City Council had approved for a question that was on the ballot for the 2021 city election. The district court granted the petition, and the City Council approved revised ballot language that same day. Respondents then (1) moved to amend the judgment and injunction to encompass the revised ballot language, and (2) filed a petition under Minn. Stat. 204B.44 asking the district court to strike the revised question from the ballot. The district court granted the motion and the petition, concluding that the revised ballot language was misleading. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the current ballot language met the standard set forth in Breza v. Kiffmeyer, 723 N.W.2d 633 (Minn. 2006). View "Samuels v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's election contest filed under Minn. Stat. 209.021, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff was not prejudiced by the delay in providing notice of the election contest to the Chief Justice; (2) Plaintiff's claim asserting a violation of her civil rights under the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10101, was not properly asserted on appeal; and (3) the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's election contest for failure to state a legally sufficient claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Bergstrom v. McEwen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Petitioners asking the Supreme Court to temporarily restrain the State Canvassing Board from certifying the results of the November 3, 2020 general election held in Minnesota and to require a full recount of the federal and state offices on the ballot, holding that the petition must be dismissed.Petitioners asserted three claims in their petition. Counts I and II rested on challenges to consent decrees entered by the district court that suspended the witness requirement for absentee and mail ballots for the 2020 general election. Count III challenged the processes used in some counties for conducting the post-election review. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition, holding (1) Counts I and II were barred by laches; and (2) because Petitioners did not file proof that the petition was served in compliance with Minn. Stat. 204B.44, Count III must be dismissed. View "Kistner v. Simon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court temporarily enjoining the Secretary of State from taking steps to enforce or require compliance with voter-assistance and ballot-collection limits, holding that the district court correctly found that a likelihood of success on the merits was shown on the claim that the voter-assistance limit in Minn. Stat. 204C.15, subd. 1, for ballot marking, was preempted but otherwise erred.At issue was the limits in Minnesota Statutes on the number of voters that an individual may assist in marking a ballot and the number of completed absentee ballots the an individual may collect and deliver. In a complaint, two Democratic committees brought a number of challenges to the limits. The district court concluded that the Democratic committees were likely to succeed on the merits of the claims and had demonstrated that a temporary injunction was warranted. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision on the preemption claim as to the limit on the number of voters that may be assisted in marking a ballot but otherwise reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion in finding that a likelihood of success on the merits was shown on Plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "DSCC v. Simon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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In this case involving a Minnesota voter's request for access to information in Minnesota's statewide voter registration list the Supreme Court held that registered Minnesota voters have access to "public information lists" as defined by law, as well as to information provided by the secretary of state, but the Legislature has restricted access to the other information sought.A statewide voter registration list is contained in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS). The Secretary of State is responsible for administering the SVRS, and the Legislature has allowed some of the information in the SVRS to be made available for inspection in the form of a "public information list." Plaintiff sought access to non-private government data"from the SVRS. The Secretary informed Plaintiff that he was entitled to information in the SVRS related to currently registered Minnesota voters but declined to produce SVRS information on voter status and other issues. The district court ordered the Secretary to produce the requested data. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the relevant provisions of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and the Minnesota Election Law provides that access to the voter registration list contained in the SVRS is limited to "public information lists" and to information provided by the Secretary. View "Cilek v. Office of Minnesota Secretary of State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court denied Petitioners' petition filed under Minn. Stat. 204B.44(a) asking that the Supreme Court direct the Minnesota Secretary of State to include Roque De La Fuente's name as a candidate for The Republican Party of Minnesota's nomination for United States President on the ballot for the Minnesota presidential nomination primary election on March 3, 2020, holding that Petitioners' claims failed.Petitioners argued that the procedure established by Minn. Stat. 207A.13, which allows a major political party to determine which candidates' names will be on the ballot for a statewide presidential nomination primary, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that section 207A.13 does not violate (1) the prohibition against special privileges because the Legislature had a rational basis for classifying political parties based on a party's participation in a national convention to nominate the party's presidential candidate; (2) the Presidential Eligibility Clause because requiring a political party to identify the candidates for the ballot to be used in a presidential nomination primary is not a condition of eligibility to serve as President of the United States; and (3) Petitioners' rights of free association because any burden imposed on those rights by the ballot preparation procedures is outweighed by the associational rights of political parties and the State's regulatory interests. View "De La Fuente v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals holding that a proposed charter amendment was not manifestly unconstitutional but was an improper referendum, holding that the proposed amendment was not an improper exercise of the charter amendment power and was not manifestly unconstitutional.After the City of Bloomington changed from a system of open trash collection to a system of organized collection a group of residents attempted, through an amendment to the City Charter, to require that voters pre-approve a change in the method of trash collection. The City refused to put the proposed charter amendment on the ballot. In the original appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the court of appeals for decision on whether the proposed amendment would violate the Contract Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions and whether it was an attempt to exercise the voter referendum power through an improper means. On remand, the court of appeals concluded that the proposed amendment was an improper referendum but was not unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the proposed charter amendment was not an improper referendum and did not violate the Contract Clauses. View "Jennissen v. City of Bloomington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Saint Paul and dismissing Appellant's petition asserting that the City erred by refusing to put his proposed amendment to the City Charter before the voters in the next election, holding that Appellant did not meet his burden to prove that his petition met statutory requirements.In rejecting the petition, the City relied on the statewide voter registration system (SVRS) in concluding that Appellant's petition did not have the requisite number of signatures. In his petition, Appellant argued that the City erred by relying on the SVRS to invalidate signatures and in refusing to put his proposed charter amendment before voters. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City did not err by relying on the SVRS to determine eligibility and rejecting signatures of those who were registered to vote at an address outside the City; and (2) Appellant did not meet his burden to show that the City erred in rejecting the petition signatures. View "Butler v. City of Saint Paul" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law