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Delegates To the Republican National Convention et al v. Republican National Committee et al

August 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David O. Carter United States District Judge



Section 1971 of Title 42 of the United States Code is part of a landmark civil rights statutory scheme, commonly referred to as the "Voting Rights Act," which Congress enacted to end the violence and discrimination that plagued minority voters in Congressman Ron Paul's home state of Texas and other parts of this country. See McCain v. Lybrand, 465 U.S. 236, 243, 243 n.11 (1984); Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia, 517 U.S. 186, 213 (1996) ("Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1964 because it concluded that case-by-case enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment, as exemplified by the history of the white primary in Texas, had proved ineffective to stop discriminatory voting practices in certain areas of the country."); South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 308 (1966) ("The Voting Rights Act was designed by Congress to banish the blight of racial discrimination in voting, which has infected the electoral process in parts of our country for nearly a century."); Elections, 13D Fed. Prac. & Proc. Juris. § 3576 (3d ed.) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1971 as part of comprehensive legislation "to provide effective remedies against discrimination in the conduct of elections" that began "with the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and with broadening amendments in 1960, 1964, 1965, and 1970"). "The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable." Nw. Austin Mun. Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193, 201 (2009). "When it was first passed, unconstitutional discrimination was rampant and the 'registration of voting-age whites ran roughly 50 percentage points or more ahead' of black registration in many covered States." Id.; see also Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536, 541 (1927) (lawsuit challenging Texas statute "forbid[ding] negroes to take part in a primary election").

Six years ago, Congressman Ron Paul voted against reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act.*fn1 Ironically, his supporters now bring this lawsuit under the very statutory scheme he tried to end.

After reviewing the moving papers and oral argument, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 7), but dismisses WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Because the Court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the Court also DENIES Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Application to Expedite Trial (Dkt. 16).


The gravamen of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint ("FAC") is that Defendants have engaged in various acts-often too vaguely described to be intelligible-that have disadvantaged Ron Paul in his quest to be nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for President at the Republican National Convention commencing on August 27, 2012.


The FAC describes the Plaintiffs as: (1) "National Delegates"; (2) "Alternate National Delegates"; and (3) "State Delegates who elected National Delegates." FAC at 24:4-19. The National and Alternate National Delegates include "Delegates duly elected but having their Certification [sic] withdrawn." Id. at 24:15.

The FAC describes the Defendants as: (1) the Republican National Committee ("RNC"); (2) RNC's Chairman, Reince Priebus; (3) "every State Republican Party and party Chairman within the Jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit"; and (4) "State Republican Party Organizations participating in a Federal Election for the purpose of nominating a candidate for President of the United States and a candidate for Vice President of the United States." Id. at 24:15.


While the FAC's allegations are often duplicative and unclear, they appear to be as follows:

* "Defendants have unlawfully used State Bylaws." Id. at 27:5-6.

* "Defendants have refused to Certify [sic] Delegates who were properly elected." Id. at 27:7-8.

* "[I]n almost every state in the United States[,] Defendants engaged in a scheme to intimidate and harass Delegates who were supporting a Candidate that Defendants did not approve of. This harassment included the use of violence, intimidating demands that Delegates sign affidavits under penalty of perjury with the threat of criminal prosecution for perjury as well as financial penalties and fines if the Delegate fails to vote as instructed by Defendants." Id. at 26:21-26.

* "Defendants have further harassed and intimidated Plaintiffs with untimely Rule changes designed to deny a quorum or to manipulate Delegates supporting a particular Candidate to be deprived of a fair election in furtherance of a scheme to deny Plaintiffs the right to vote their conscience on all ballots." Id. at 26:27-28, 27:1-2.

* "Defendants have altered the voting ballot results to fraudulently reflect an outcome that is inconsistent with the actual voting ballot results for the purpose of certifying a fraudulently selected slate of Delegates to support the Candidate of Defendants [sic] choice rather than the Delegates properly elected all to prevent Plaintiffs from voting their conscience." Id. at 27:9-12.

* "[T]here is a systematic campaign of election fraud at State Conventions including programming a voting machine in Arizona to count Ron Paul votes as Governor Romney votes; ballot stuffing, meaning the same person casting several ballots in several State Conventions; altering procedural rules to prevent votes being cast for Ron Paul, all as acts of intimidation to prevent National Delegates from voting their conscience." Id. at 33:10-15.

* "Bones have been broken. A gun has been used to threaten a Plaintiff to vote as ordered while inside of a school. Plaintiffs have been followed. Plaintiffs have been threatened with future life-time harassment if Plaintiffs do not vote as directed. Plaintiffs have been threatened to remove their names from this lawsuit or face adverse consequences." Id. at 34:12-16.

The sole allegation that references a specific Defendant and specific Plaintiff appears on page 32. There, the FAC alleges that "Plaintiff Renato D'Amico is a duly elected National Delegate from the State of Massachusetts who was unlawfully removed from the State Delegation when he refused to sign" an affidavit "presented by Defendant Republican Party of Massachusetts" requiring him to "swear[] under penalty of perjury that he would vote for Governor Romney." Id. at 32. The FAC alleges that, "[i]n Massachusetts[,] at least 17 Delegates duly elected were ordered to sign" the same affidavit even though "no Party Rule . . . permits such an [a]ffidavit nor such an ultimatum, nor has said Defendant ever required such an [a]ffidavit in the past." Id. Plaintiffs "request an order of this Court reinstating Plaintiff Renado D'Amico to his duly elected position as a Certified National Delegate and further requests that all Massachusetts Delegates be reinstated who were removed solely for refusing to sign the unlawful [a]ffidavit." Id.

c.Procedural history

On July 5, 2012, Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss. Mot. (Dkt. 7). Four days later, this Court denied Plaintiffs' ex parte application but explained that, if Plaintiffs wished to file an amended complaint containing the changes outlined in the ex parte application, Plaintiffs were free to do so. See July 9, 2012, Order (Dkt. 10). Plaintiffs filed the FAC, with is the operative pleading in this case, on July 11, 2012. FAC (Dkt. 12). The Court then granted Defendants' request to reinstate their Motion to Dismiss because the FAC added no new factual allegations or legal theories and instead only added new Plaintiffs. See July 12, 2012, Order (Dkt. 13).

II.Legal Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when a plaintiff's allegations fail to set forth a set of facts which, if true, would entitle the complainant to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (holding that a claim must be facially plausible in order to survive a motion to dismiss). The pleadings must raise the right to relief beyond the speculative level; a plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555(citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). On a motion to dismiss, this court accepts as true a plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations and construes all factual inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). The court is not required to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, review is ordinarily limited to the contents of the complaint and material properly submitted with the complaint. Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754 (9th Cir. 1994); Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc.,896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). Under the incorporation by reference doctrine, the court may also consider documents "whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to ...

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