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Moore v. Martin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

January 31, 2018

MARK MOORE and MICHAEL HARROD PLAINTIFFS
v.
MARK MARTIN in his official capacity as Arkansas Secretary of State DEFENDANT

          AMENDED ORDER

          James M. Moody Jr. United States District Judge

         The Court held a bench trial on December 12, 2017. The parties stipulated to the admission of the July 27, 2015 transcript from the summary judgment motion hearing. After review of the record, transcript, the witnesses' testimony and exhibits presented at trial, along with the arguments of counsel, and the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Moore v. Martin, 854 F.3d 1029 (8th Cir. 2017), the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

1. Plaintiffs filed suit on February 6, 2014, seeking a declaratory judgment from the Court that Arkansas Code Ann §§ 7-7-101, 7-7-103, and 7-7-203(c)(1) are unconstitutional because the statutes violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by way of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs also seek injunctive relief.
2. This case is before the Court on remand from the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Plaintiff Mark Moore appealed this Court's Order granting summary judgment to Defendant Secretary of State and denying summary judgment to the original Plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of summary judgment to Plaintiffs, but reversed the summary judgment granted to Defendant and remanded this case for trial on the merits.
3. Plaintiff Moore was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas in 2014, but did not successfully petition for ballot access.
4. Plaintiff William Chris Johnson voluntarily dismissed himself from this suit in 2015, and has not refiled.
5. Plaintiff Michael Harrod, a putative candidate for State House of Representatives, declined to appeal from this Court's summary judgment order.
6. Plaintiff Moore intends to be an independent candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas in the November 2018 general election.
7. Plaintiff Moore is not asking the Court to order any names printed on the Arkansas ballot for a future General Election. Plaintiff is asking for injunctive relief against enforcement of the current independent petition deadline as to future elections.
8. Arkansas Code § 7-7-103 provides the specific requirements for filing as an independent. An independent candidate must file a political practices pledge, an affidavit of eligibility, a petition signed by 3% of qualified electors of the place where the person is seeking office, and a notice of candidacy stating the name and title of the elective office the candidate seeks. The statute also provides that “[p]etitions shall be circulated not earlier than ninety (90) calendar days before the deadline for filing petitions. . . .” Ark. Code Ann. § 7-7-103(b)(3)(B) (West).
9. Specifically, Arkansas Code § 7-7-203(c)(1) provides that the filing period is a “one-week period ending at 12:00 noon on the first day in March and beginning at 12:00 noon one (1) week prior to the first day in March.” Ark. Code Ann. § 7-7-203(c)(1) (West). The March deadline is the same for party candidates and independent candidates.
10. The current deadline to file petitions to run for statewide office as an independent candidate is March 1, 2018. Therefore, the deadline for filing a petition to run as an independent candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Arkansas is March 1, 2018.
11. Arkansas's filing deadline for independent candidates in partisan elections was changed in 2013 from May 1st to March 1st of election years.
12. The Secretary of State contends that the March 1st deadline for filing independent petitions is necessary because there has been an increase in the number of initiative petitions filed with the Secretary of State since 2011. The processing of, and the litigation involving, initiative ...

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