Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

California Justice Committee, the Constitution Party of California v. Debra Bowen

October 18, 2012

CALIFORNIA JUSTICE COMMITTEE, THE CONSTITUTION PARTY OF CALIFORNIA, JEFF NORMAN, CHARLES MICHEL DEEMER, AND JOHN GABREE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DEBRA BOWEN, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Percy Anderson United States District Judge

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Plaintiffs California Justice Committee, the Constitution Party of California, Jeff Norman, Charles Michel Deemer, and John Gabree (collectively "Plaintiffs") commenced this action against Debra Bowen, California's Secretary of State ("Defendant" or "Secretary of State") on May 7, 2012 for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of California Elections Code section 5100. Specifically, Plaintiffs challenge section 5100's provision requiring that a political body seeking to qualify as a political party to have its nominee for President appear as the party's nominee for President on the November general election must satisfy the requirements for qualification at least 135 days prior to the primary election even if the party does not use the primary election in the process to choose its nominee.

In their Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) Joint Report, the parties agreed to try the case to the Court, that no discovery was needed, and that the Court Trial would be "decided based on record presented in support and in opposition to the preliminary injunction, supplemented by a joint stipulations as to additional facts." The Court issued a Scheduling Order consistent with the representations contained in the parties' Joint 26(f) Report. The Parties filed Trial Briefs and exchanged proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.*fn1

The Secretary of State did not object to any of the evidence submitted by Plaintiffs in support of their Motion for Preliminary Injunction. However, in advance of the Court Trial, the Secretary of State filed evidentiary objections to the Declaration of Richard Winger that Plaintiffs first filed in support of their Motion for Preliminary Injunction and upon which they also rely to support their proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The Court overrules the Secretary of State's evidentiary objections.*fn2

On October 16, 2012, the Court, sitting without a jury, conducted a bench trial. Having considered the materials submitted by the parties and reviewing the evidence, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a):

I. Findings of Fact

A. Plaintiffs' Background

1. The California Justice Party and Plaintiff Constitution Party of California are political bodies attempting to qualify for the 2012 general election and desire to list their nominees for President and Vice President with their party affiliations on the November Presidential Election ballot. [Decl. of Jeff Norman ("Norman Decl.") 2, 11, 15 (Dkt. No. 6); Decl. of Charles Michel Deemer ("Deemer Decl.") 11-12, 17 (Dkt. No. 8).]

2. Plaintiff California Justice Committee is a general purpose committee under California law formed to support the efforts of the California Justice Party to qualify as a recognized political party in California. [Norman Decl. 2.]

3. Plaintiffs Jeff Norman and John Gabree are registered voters who have submitted affidavits declaring their intention to affiliate with the California Justice Party and who wish to vote for their party's candidates and the party with which they align. [Norman Decl. 6, 11; Decl. of John Gabree 3, 6 (Dkt. No. 4).]

4. Plaintiff Charles Michel Deemer is a registered voter who has submitted an affidavit declaring his intention to affiliate with the Constitution Party of California and who wishes to vote for his party's candidates and the party with which he aligns. [Deemer Decl. 12, 15.]

B. California's Party-Qualification Scheme

5. The California Elections Code defines a political "party" as a "political party or organization that has qualified for participation in any primary election." [Cal. Elec. Code § 338.]

6. Elections Code § 5100 provides three avenues by which political parties can receive formal recognition in California: (1) by receiving 2 percent of the statewide vote in the preceding gubernatorial election; (2) by having 1 percent of the vote from the last gubernatorial election declare their intent to affiliate with the party by registering with the party; or (3) by collecting signatures of voters equal to 10 percent of the vote from the last gubernatorial election declaring that they represent a proposed party and that they desire to have that party participate in elections. [Cal. Elec. Code § 5100.]

7. For the current election cycle, if a political body sought to qualify as a political party through the voter registration method in Elections Code § 5100(b), a minimum of 103,004 voters needed to have declared their intention to affiliate with that party by the deadline specified by statute. [Joint Stipulated Facts ("Stip.") 3 (Dkt. No. 29).]

8. For the current election cycle, if a political body sought to qualify as a political party through the petition method in Elections Code § 5100(c), a minimum of 1,030,040 voters needed to have signed a petition supporting recognition of that political body as a political party by the deadline specified by statute. [Request for Judicial Notice ("RJN") at 7 (Dkt. No. 3).]

9. Elections Code § 5100 provides that the Secretary of State shall determine the parties eligible to participate in the primary election 135 days prior to the primary election, which this year was held on June 5, 2012. [Cal. Elec. Code § 5100; RJN at 6.]

10. The deadline for the Secretary of State's determination of parties eligible to participate in this year's primary therefore fell on January 23, 2012. [Cal. Elec. Code § 5100; RJN at 6-7, 10 &16.]

11. For political bodies seeking to qualify under Elections Code § 5100(b) (voter registration), the Secretary of State's determination is based on voter registration affidavits submitted to each county's registrar of voters by 154 days before the primary. [Cal. Elec. Code §2187(d)(2); RJN at 10.]

12. The deadline for voters to submit voter registration affidavits that would count toward the Secretary of State's determination of parties eligible to participate in this year's primary therefore fell on January 3, 2012. [RJN at 6, 10 & 16.]

13. For political bodies seeking to qualify under Elections Code § 5100(c) (petition) during this election cycle, the petition packet had to be submitted no later no later than November 10, 2011 to ensure verification of signatures by January 23, 2012. [Cal. Elec. Code §§ 5100(c), 9030, 9031; RJN at 7.]

14. Under California law, only political bodies that fulfill California's party-qualification requirements are entitled to place their nominees for President and Vice President on the November Presidential ballot with their party affiliations listed. [Cal. Elec. Code §§ 6901, 13105; Field v. Bowen, 199 Cal. App. 4th 346, 350, 131 Cal. Rptr. 3d 721 (2011).]

15. Under California law, candidates for President and Vice President do not need to participate in the primary election to participate in the general election. [Cal. Const., art. 2, § 5(a-b); Cal. Elec. Code § 359.5; RJN at 52.]

16. California's January 3, 2012 deadline for party qualification through the voter registration option is earlier than almost every early qualification deadline that has been struck down by courts, and only two deadlines were earlier in the calendar year: the Arkansas deadline struck down in 1996 (January 2) and the Ohio deadline struck down in 2006 (November 3 of the year preceding the election). [Decl. of Richard Winger ("Winger Decl.") 28 & Exh. B (Dkt. No. 5).]

C. California's Requirements for Independent Presidential Candidates 17. Under California law, independent candidates for President may qualify for the November ballot in California by submitting a petition with a sufficient number of signatures by 88 days before the November Presidential election. [Winger Decl. 32; RJN at 35 & 39.]

18. For the November 2012 election, the number of signatures required for an independent Presidential candidate was 172,859, and the deadline for submitting the petition for verification of signatures was August 10, 2012. [Winger Decl. 32; RJN at 39.]

D. Plaintiffs' Efforts to Satisfy California's Party-Qualification Scheme 19. On or about November 30, 2011, Rocky Anderson announced the formation of the Justice Party and his intention to seek its nomination for President in 2012, and, on or about December 15, 2011, a group of California voters submitted to the California Secretary of State's office a notice of intent to qualify the Justice Party as an official political party in California. [Norman Decl. 4-5.]

20. Because the Justice Party has limited funds, its supporters elected to pursue the voter registration option for qualifying as a political ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.