ND Court Grants Injunction Against ND Electioneering Law
Former NDGOP Chairman Gary Emineth took North Dakota’s clearly unconstitutional law against political speech on election day to court, and he’s already won a big victory convincing the court to issue an injunction setting the law aside this election day.
From the court:
After a careful review of the entire record, and an analysis of the Dataphase factors, the Court finds the plaintiff has met his burden under Rule 65 for the issuance of a preliminary injunction. The North Dakota electioneering ban enacted in 1981 is an unreasonable restraint on constitutionally-protected speech. It is clearly an invalid law based on United States Supreme Court precedent (Mills v. Alabama) from 1966. There is no valid justification for the law in modern day society.
The broad electioneering ban in North Dakota – which is designed to prohibit any “electioneering” activity on the day of an election – cannot withstand a constitutional challenge. The demise of this archaic law enacted in 1911, to “secure the purity of elections,” has long been recognized as inevitable.
The Court GRANTS the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
On a political note, North Dakota Democrats (including Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp) have been very critical of Emineth’s legal challenge to the law, which puts them squarely on the side of unconstitutional limitations on free speech.
Remember, we’re not talking about a law that merely bans yard signs and political advertising on election day (which would still be unconstitutional). We’re talking about a law which makes it illegal to even talk to your neighbors about politics.
Here’s the law again, from the ND Century Code:
Any person asking, soliciting, or in any manner trying to induce or persuade, any voter on an election day to vote or refrain from voting for any candidate or the candidates or ticket of any political party or organization, or any measure submitted to the people, is guilty of an infraction. The display upon motor vehicles of adhesive signs which are not readily removable and which promote the candidacy of any individual, any political party, or a vote upon any measure, and political advertisements promoting the candidacy of any individual, political party, or a vote upon any measure which are displayed on fixed permanent billboards, may not, however, be deemed a violation of this section.
Again, that yard signs and campaign commercials and political debates may annoy some, annoyance is not a justification for unconstitutional limitations on speech.
Emineth should be commended for starting the process to expunge this travesty from ND law.