Case: Blankenship v. Newsom

3:20-cv-04479 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Filed Date: July 7, 2020

Closed Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed on July 7, 2020 by a third-party presidential candidate and a California registered voter, seeking an injunction against the state's ballot signature requirement and deadline and a declaration that the ballot-access laws are unconstitutional as applied during the pandemic. The court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order on August 3, 2020. The plaintiffs' voluntarily dismissed the action on August 19, 2020. This case is about Ca…

COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed on July 7, 2020 by a third-party presidential candidate and a California registered voter, seeking an injunction against the state's ballot signature requirement and deadline and a declaration that the ballot-access laws are unconstitutional as applied during the pandemic. The court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order on August 3, 2020. The plaintiffs' voluntarily dismissed the action on August 19, 2020.


This case is about California's in-person signature collection requirements for federal elections as applied during the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 7, 2020, the Constitution Party's candidate for President of the United States and a registered voter in California filed this lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Governor of California and the Secretary of State of California. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking a declaration that the ballot-access requirements are unconstitutional and an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the filing deadline and signature requirements for the November 2020 presidential election. The plaintiffs also sought an injunction prohibiting the defendants from printing the November election presidential ballots unless an extension of the filing deadline and a decreased signature requirement was enacted. The plaintiffs asserted that the signature requirement for presidential nominees to appear on the ballot of at least 1% of the statewide registration from the last general election (in this case, 196,964 signatures) and the statutory deadline of August 7, 2020 for the signatures to be submitted, as applied during the pandemic, infringed on the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association, equal protection, and due process. The case was assigned to Judge Richard Seeborg.

On the same day as they filed their complaint, the plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order. The plaintiffs requested that the court prohibit enforcement of the filing deadline and signature requirements for the November 3 election and any substitute requirements that would violate the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. The plaintiffs also requested that the court prohibit the printing of the general election ballot unless the defendants agree to extend the deadline and to a decreased signature requirement. The defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to show reasonably diligent efforts to obtain the required signatures, that other federal courts in California had previously denied preliminary relief to enjoin ballot access measures during the pandemic in other cases, and that California continues to have a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of the electoral progress even during a pandemic. The defendants also argued that the ballot access laws did not infringe on the second plaintiff-voter, since the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld politically neutral regulations that limit the field of candidates.

On August 3, 2020, the Court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. 477 F.Supp.3d 1098. The court found that the burden on the plaintiff-nominee created by California's regulations was not severe. The court found that the nominee had done nothing to secure a place on the California ballot, including socially distanced in-person signature solicitation. The court noted that none of the analogous cases in federal courts arising during the pandemic found a severe burden absent a showing of some electoral effort on the part of the plaintiff. In light of the nominee's inaction, the court declined to attach strict scrutiny to the claims. Next, the court balanced the character and magnitude of the plaintiffs' alleged injuries against the interests of the state. Absent a strict scrutiny standard, the court noted that important regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify reasonable nondiscriminatory restrictions. The court found that the state has an interest in preserving the integrity of the electoral process, an interest in managing elections in an efficient way that honors the choices of its citizens, and an interest in effectuating the will of its citizens through legislation. On the other side of the balancing test, the court found that the nominee's injury was entirely abstract, since he had expended no effort to be placed on the ballot. The court concluded that the plaintiffs' alleged injuries were outweighed by the state's democratic and electoral interests and therefore denied the motion.

On August 19, 2020, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Nicholas Gillan (11/15/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17327653/parties/blankenship-v-newsom/


Judge(s)

Seeborg, Richard G. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Dutta, Gautam (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Becerra, Xavier (California)

Beckington, Mark R. (California)

Haddad, Lara (California)

Judge(s)

Seeborg, Richard G. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Dutta, Gautam (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Becerra, Xavier (California)

Beckington, Mark R. (California)

Haddad, Lara (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

3:20-cv-04479

Docket [PACER]

Aug. 19, 2020

Aug. 19, 2020

Docket
2

3:20-cv-04479

Plaintiffs Donald Blankenship and Denise Pursche's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief
1

3:20-cv-04479

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

Complaint
13

3:20-cv-04479

State Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Application for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction

July 10, 2020

July 10, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief
23

3:20-cv-04479

Order Denying Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Preliminary Injunctive Relief

477 F.Supp.3d 1098, 2020 WL 6589654

Aug. 3, 2020

Aug. 3, 2020

Order/Opinion
24

3:20-cv-04479

Plaintiffs' Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Pursuant to FRCP 41(a)(1)(A)(i)

Aug. 19, 2020

Aug. 19, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17327653/blankenship-v-newsom/

Last updated July 23, 2022, 3:10 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Plaintiffs ( Filing fee $ 400, receipt number 0971-14661643.). Filed byDenise Pursche, Donald Blankenship. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

RECAP
2

MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order filed by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Donald Blankenship, # 2 Declaration of Denise Pursche, # 3 Declaration of Richard Winger, # 4 Declaration of Gautam Dutta, # 5 Proposed Order)(Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

1 Declaration of Donald Blankenship

View on PACER

2 Declaration of Denise Pursche

View on PACER

3 Declaration of Richard Winger

View on PACER

4 Declaration of Gautam Dutta

View on PACER

5 Proposed Order

View on PACER

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

RECAP
3

Proposed Summons. (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
4

CONSENT/DECLINATION to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche.. (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
5

Case assigned to Judge Richard Seeborg. Counsel for plaintiff or the removing party is responsible for serving the Complaint or Notice of Removal, Summons and the assigned judge's standing orders and all other new case documents upon the opposing parties. For information, visit E-Filing A New Civil Case at http://cand.uscourts.gov/ecf/caseopening.Standing orders can be downloaded from the court's web page at www.cand.uscourts.gov/judges. Upon receipt, the summons will be issued and returned electronically. Counsel is required to send chambers a copy of the initiating documents pursuant to L.R. 5-1(e)(7). A scheduling order will be sent by Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) within two business days. (mbcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
6

Initial Case Management Scheduling Order with ADR Deadlines: Case Management Statement due by 10/8/2020. Initial Case Management Conference set for 10/15/2020 10:00 AM in San Francisco, Courtroom 03, 17th Floor. (jlgS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
7

Summons Issued as to Gavin Newsom, Alex Padilla. (jlgS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
8

CLERK'S NOTICE CONTINUING CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE: The Initial Case Management Conference previously set for October 15, 2020 is continued to October 22, 2020 at 10:00 AM. All parties shall appear telephonically and must contact Court Call at (866) 582-6878 at least one week prior to the Conference to arrange their participation. Case Management Statement due by October 15, 2020. (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.)(lrcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/7/2020) (Entered: 07/07/2020)

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER

~Util - Case Assigned by Intake

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER

Clerk's Notice

July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020

PACER
9

ORDER re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order filed by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 7/7/2020. (lrcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/8/2020) (Entered: 07/08/2020)

July 8, 2020

July 8, 2020

RECAP
10

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order, 1 Complaint, 6 Initial Case Management Scheduling Order with ADR Deadlines, 4 Consent/Declination to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge, 7 Summons Issued (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/8/2020) (Entered: 07/08/2020)

July 8, 2020

July 8, 2020

PACER
11

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order, 1 Complaint, 6 Initial Case Management Scheduling Order with ADR Deadlines, 4 Consent/Declination to Proceed Before a US Magistrate Judge, 7 Summons Issued (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/8/2020) (Entered: 07/08/2020)

July 8, 2020

July 8, 2020

PACER
12

NOTICE of Appearance by Lara Haddad (Haddad, Lara) (Filed on 7/10/2020) (Entered: 07/10/2020)

July 10, 2020

July 10, 2020

PACER
13

OPPOSITION/RESPONSE (re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order ) filed byGavin Newsom, Alex Padilla. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Lara Haddad, # 2 Declaration Angelica Quirarte, # 3 Declaration Rachelle Delucchi)(Haddad, Lara) (Filed on 7/10/2020) (Entered: 07/10/2020)

1 Declaration Lara Haddad

View on RECAP

2 Declaration Angelica Quirarte

View on RECAP

3 Declaration Rachelle Delucchi

View on RECAP

July 10, 2020

July 10, 2020

RECAP
14

CLERK'S NOTICE SCHEDULING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER HEARING as to 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order . Motion Hearing set for 8/5/2020 at 10:00 AM before Judge Richard Seeborg. (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.)(cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/14/2020) (Entered: 07/14/2020)

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

PACER
15

REPLY (re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order ) filed byDonald Blankenship, Denise Pursche. (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/14/2020) (Entered: 07/14/2020)

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

PACER
16

OBJECTIONS to re 13 Opposition/Response to Motion, by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche. (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/14/2020) (Entered: 07/14/2020)

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

RECAP

~Util - Set Motion and Deadlines/Hearings AND Clerk's Notice

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

PACER
17

NOTICE by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/15/2020) (Entered: 07/15/2020)

July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020

RECAP
18

NOTICE by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/22/2020) (Entered: 07/22/2020)

July 22, 2020

July 22, 2020

RECAP
19

CLERKS NOTICE SETTING ZOOM HEARING. Motion Hearing set for 8/5/2020 at 10:00 AM before Judge Richard Seeborg. For Zoom connection, see: https://apps.cand.uscourts.gov/telhrg/This proceeding will be a Zoom video conferencing webinar. ADVANCE REGISTRATION OF PARTICIPATING COUNSEL IS REQUIRED and must be done by emailing a list of names and emails of counsel who will be participating in the hearing to RScrd@cand.uscourts.gov by no later than August 4, 2020 at 1:00 PM. PLEASE NOTE: Persons granted access to court proceedings held by telephone or videoconference are reminded that photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings, including screenshots or other visual copying of a hearing, is absolutely prohibited. See General Order 58 at Paragraph III.Case participants may also receive an email invitation from the court with different information which should be followed.All counsel, members of the public and press please click the link or use the information below to join the webinar: https://cand-uscourts.zoomgov.com/j/1606595725?pwd=OExjRVA5N01TQjRSRDZNM25PSThjUT09Meeting ID: 160 659 5725Password: 466459Dial by your location+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)+1 253 215 8782 US+1 301 715 8592 US+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/ac4JkPfcjoFor important information and guidance on technical preparation, please see https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/zoom/. Re: 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order . Motion Hearing set for 8/5/2020 at 10:00 AM before Judge Richard Seeborg. (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.) (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/29/2020) (Entered: 07/29/2020)

July 29, 2020

July 29, 2020

PACER

~Util - Set Motion and Deadlines/Hearings AND Clerk's Notice Setting Zoom Hearing

July 29, 2020

July 29, 2020

PACER
20

CLERK'S NOTICE THE MOTION [#2] FOR TRO SCHEDULED FOR HEARING ON AUGUST 5, 2020 AT 10:00 AM SHALL BE SUBMITTED WITHOUT ORAL ARGUMENT PURSUANT TO CIVIL LOCAL RULE 7-1(b). ACCORDINGLY, THE MOTION HEARING IS VACATED. (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.) (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/30/2020) (Entered: 07/30/2020)

July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

PACER
21

REPLY (re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order ) State Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Notice of Supplemental Authority filed byGavin Newsom. (Haddad, Lara) (Filed on 7/30/2020) (Entered: 07/30/2020)

July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

PACER
22

NOTICE by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 7/30/2020) (Entered: 07/30/2020)

July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

PACER

Clerk's Notice

July 30, 2020

July 30, 2020

PACER
23

ORDER DENYING 2 MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER & PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/3/2020) (Entered: 08/03/2020)

Aug. 3, 2020

Aug. 3, 2020

PACER
24

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Donald Blankenship, Denise Pursche (Dutta, Gautam) (Filed on 8/19/2020) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

Aug. 19, 2020

Aug. 19, 2020

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 7, 2020

Closing Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Constitution Party's candidate for President of the United States and a registered voter in California

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Governor of California, State

Secretary of State of California, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting:

Candidate qualifications

Election administration