Case: Goldstein v. Galvin

20-12931 | Massachusetts state trial court

Filed Date: April 9, 2020

Closed Date: April 17, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: Four Massachusetts candidates for state and political offices filed this emergency petition for relief seeking waiver of the in-person signature requirements to appear on the ballot. The Court declared the signature requirements unconstitutional in the context of the pandemic, and halved the number of required signatures, allowed signatures to be collected electronically, and extended the deadlines to collect the signatures. On April 9, 2020, candidates for the US Senate, the …

COVID-19 Summary: Four Massachusetts candidates for state and political offices filed this emergency petition for relief seeking waiver of the in-person signature requirements to appear on the ballot. The Court declared the signature requirements unconstitutional in the context of the pandemic, and halved the number of required signatures, allowed signatures to be collected electronically, and extended the deadlines to collect the signatures.


On April 9, 2020, candidates for the US Senate, the US Congress, and state government filed this emergency petition for relief on behalf of themselves on others similarly situated in the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, alleging that the in-person signature requirements violated the Article 9 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory relief in the form of a waiver of the in-person signature requirements, or substantial modification to the requirements to make it easier for candidates to appear on the ballot.

The plaintiffs stated that both the Massachusetts and US Constitutions recognize two fundamental rights at issue here: the right of candidates to participate equally in the electoral process and the right of voters to cast their ballot as they see fit. The plaintiffs had roughly a month to collect signatures prior to stay-at-home recommendations being issued by health officials. While the plaintiffs collected signatures during this time, they were not able to meet the required number. The petitioners argued that the in-person signature requirements impose severe burdens on these two fundamental rights, and that these burdens do not pass strict scrutiny. They argued that the state's interest could be achieved through more narrowly-tailored means that protect Massachusetts' citizens' lives. The plaintiffs alleged that, even if the rational basis test were to be used, the statute does not bear a real or substantial relation to the general welfare given the public health crisis.

On April 17, Judge Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued a ruling. Judge Gants found that the minimum signature requirements were unconstitutional given in the limited context of the COVID-19 pandemic. He ordered that the number of required signatures for each candidate be cut in half, and also ordered that signatures could be collected electronically. Voters could download the nomination papers, sign the form digitally, then return the form electronically. Judge Gants also ordered that the deadline for candidates running for State district and county officers be extended.

The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Justin Hill (6/28/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Budd, Kimberley S. (Massachusetts)

Cypher, Elspeth B (Massachusetts)

Gants, Ralph D (Massachusetts)

Gaziano, Frank M (Massachusetts)

Kafker, Scott L (Massachusetts)

Lenk, Barbara A. (Massachusetts)

Lowy, David A (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Jones, Robert G. (Massachusetts)

Roath, Patrick (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Kaplan, Elizabeth (Massachusetts)

Judge(s)

Budd, Kimberley S. (Massachusetts)

Cypher, Elspeth B (Massachusetts)

Gants, Ralph D (Massachusetts)

Gaziano, Frank M (Massachusetts)

Kafker, Scott L (Massachusetts)

Lenk, Barbara A. (Massachusetts)

Lowy, David A (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Jones, Robert G. (Massachusetts)

Roath, Patrick (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Kaplan, Elizabeth (Massachusetts)

Rice, Juliana DeHann (Massachusetts)

Spector, Amy (Massachusetts)

Sterman, Anne L (Massachusetts)

Weitzel, Richard S. (Massachusetts)

Other Attorney(s)

Bean, Thomas O. (Massachusetts)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Massachusetts state supreme court

April 21, 2020 Docket

Emergency Petition for Relief

Massachusetts state supreme court

April 8, 2020 Complaint

Opinion

Massachusetts state supreme court

April 16, 2020 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 9, 2020

Closing Date: April 17, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Four Massachusetts political candidates.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Mooted before ruling

Defendants

Secretary of the Commonwealth, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Freedom of speech/association

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting access

Voting:

Candidate qualifications

Election administration