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Case Name Arizonans for Second Chances v. Hobbs VR-AZ-0055
Docket / Court CV-20-0098 ( State Court )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Four political action committees sued the Arizona Secretary of State seeking to allow ballot initiatives to meet Arizona's signature requirement through an online system similar to the method used to gather signatures for political candidates. They alleged the state's disparate ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Four political action committees sued the Arizona Secretary of State seeking to allow ballot initiatives to meet Arizona's signature requirement through an online system similar to the method used to gather signatures for political candidates. They alleged the state's disparate treatment of ballot initiative signatures violated the state and national constitutions. On May 13, the Arizona Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs relief.

On April 1, 2020, Arizonans for Second Chances and three other political action committees filed this lawsuit in the Arizona Supreme Court. The plaintiffs sued the Arizona Secretary of State under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the state and national Constitutions. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief from the Court in the form of an order directing the Secretary to permit plaintiffs to collect signatures for ballot initiatives via an online system, E-Qual, used to collect signatures for candidate campaigns. They claimed that Arizona's requirement that initiative signatures be collected in-person, while candidate campaign signatures could be collected online, violated Article IV and the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Free Speech clauses of the Arizona Constitution, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. This case was brought alongside a suit in the District Court of Arizona; additional information on the federal case can be found here: VR-AZ-0054.

The plaintiffs claimed that political action committees like themselves are required to gather 237,645 signatures in-person in order put initiatives on the ballot in November 2020. But, because of the Arizona Governor's "Stay at Home" order, Arizonans cannot leave their homes except to perform essential functions. Meanwhile, candidates running for office are able to collect signatures via an online system, "E-Qual," maintained by the Arizona Secretary of State. The plaintiffs alleged that this discrepancy violated the self-executing guarantee of the right to legislate by initiative as set forth in Article IV, Part 1, Section 1(2) of the Arizona Constitution by unreasonably hindering the plaintiff's ability to collect signatures amidst a pandemic. The plaintiffs also argued that the right to vote is a fundamental right recognized by both state and federal courts, and the state does not have a compelling interest that could burden that right. Certainly, plaintiffs argued, the requirement that signatures be gathered in person is not narrowly-tailored even if there were a compelling interest. Finally, plaintiffs argued that discriminating between candidates and initiatives was a content-based restriction that violated the First Amendment.

The Goldwater Institute filed an amicus brief contesting the plaintiffs' arguments, arguing that the rules for initiatives should be more stringent than those for candidates because Arizonans could oust a candidate from office if they were displeased with their performance, but that it was more difficult to reverse an initiative once it had passed.

On April 20, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, League of Women Voters of Arizona, Arizona Republican Party, Paul Bender, the Mayor of the City of Phoenix, and Legislative Democrats each submitted amicus briefs.

On May 13, the Arizona Supreme Court accepted the special action jurisdiction but denied the plaintiffs relief.

Justin Hill - 04/19/2020
Averyn Lee - 06/28/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Appellate Court is initial court
Election administration
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Arizona Secretary of State
Plaintiff Description Four political action committees.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 04/01/2020
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing VR-AZ-0054 : Arizonans for Fair Elections v. Hobbs (D. Ariz.)
Court Docket(s)
State Supreme Court
VR-AZ-0055-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
State Supreme Court
VR-AZ-0055-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
State Supreme Court
Brief Amici Curiae of Goldwater Institute in Support of Intervenors Speaker of the Arizona House and President of the Arizona Senate with Consent
VR-AZ-0055-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Desai, Roopali H. (Arizona) show/hide docs
VR-AZ-0055-0001 | VR-AZ-0055-9000
Gaona, D. Andrew (Arizona) show/hide docs
VR-AZ-0055-0001 | VR-AZ-0055-9000
Yost, Kristen M. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Arellano, Daniel Abraham (Arizona) show/hide docs
Brnovich, Mark (Arizona) show/hide docs
Brown, D. Aaron (Arizona) show/hide docs
Cantelme, David J. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Ensign, Drew Curtis (Arizona) show/hide docs
Herrera, Roy Jr. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Jernigan, Greg (Arizona) show/hide docs
Kanefield, Joseph Andrew (Arizona) show/hide docs
Makar, Robert John (Arizona) show/hide docs
Napolitano, Anthony R. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Roysden, Brunn Wall III (Arizona) show/hide docs
Wright, Jennifer (Arizona) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Adelman, Daniel Jay (Arizona) show/hide docs
Ahern, Jane (Arizona) show/hide docs
Aiken, Shawn K. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Barnes, Rhonda L. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Eckstein, Paul F. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Flores, Lisette (Arizona) show/hide docs
LaSota, Timothy Andrew (Arizona) show/hide docs
Sandefur, Christina (Arizona) show/hide docs
VR-AZ-0055-0002 | VR-AZ-0055-9000
Sandefur, Timothy Mason (Arizona) show/hide docs
VR-AZ-0055-0002 | VR-AZ-0055-9000
Scharff, Spencer Garrett (Arizona) show/hide docs
Wilenchik, Dennis Ira (Arizona) show/hide docs
Wilenchik, John Douglas (Arizona) show/hide docs
Yost, Austin (Arizona) show/hide docs

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