Case: Eason v. Whitmer

3:20-cv-12252 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Filed Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Closed Date: Sept. 9, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about the constitutionality of Michigan’s ballot-access requirements for independent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives during the November 2020 election. On August 19, 2020, an independent candidate for Michigan's 13th congressional district filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Michigan. He sued the Governor, Secretary of State and Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections for declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleg…

This is a case about the constitutionality of Michigan’s ballot-access requirements for independent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives during the November 2020 election. On August 19, 2020, an independent candidate for Michigan's 13th congressional district filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Michigan. He sued the Governor, Secretary of State and Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections for declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleged Michigan’s ballot access laws, which require independent candidates to file a qualifying petition containing 3,000 signatures by July 16, 2020 to have their names on the ballot, were unconstitutionally burdensome under the First and Fourteenth Amendments when combined with Michigan’s stay at home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also alleged party candidates were allowed to obtain signatures electronically, obtain fewer signatures, and were given an extension, and that such differential treatment was a violation of his rights to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff requested a preliminary injunction or, in the alternative, a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing the signature requirement or qualifying petition deadline against him. The case was assigned to Judge Robert H. Cleland.

On August 19, 2020, the plaintiff also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or, in the alternative, a preliminary injunction. On August 21, 2020, the Court denied plaintiff’s motion in part by denying the temporary restraining order. 2020 WL 4923694. The Court found there would not be immediate and irreparable injury without the order, and ordered a hearing on the preliminary injunction (which was later cancelled). 

On September 2, 2020, the state filed a response to the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. On September 9, 2020, the Court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction. 485 F. Supp. 3d 876. The Court denied the motion for two reasons. First, under the doctrine of laches, the plaintiff had waited over a month after the registration deadline to file this suit and assert his rights. Id. at 881. Second, the Court denied the preliminary injunction on the merits. Id. at 885. It applied the Anderson-Burdick balancing framework and found the plaintiff was unlikely to prevail on his claim. First, the Court found the signature requirement did not impose a severe burden on the plaintiffs, but rather only an intermediate burden, like in Kishore. Id. at 883. The state did not impose the entire burden on the plaintiff, rather the plaintiff did not meet the requirement because he was not diligent in pursuing signatures. The Court found he could have collected signatures during the 45 days from the expiration of the stay at home order June 1, 2020 and the deadline on July 16, 2020. Id. The Court also found the state had interests in administering elections that outweighed the intermediate burden on the plaintiff. Moreover, the Court rejected the idea that the state could not impose different requirements between independent and major party candidates. Id. at 884.

On September 9, 2020 the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case. The date of the election has passed and there have been no further filings; the case is now closed.  

Summary Authors

Kathryn Hurley (4/1/2022)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17460711/parties/eason-v-whitmer/


Judge(s)

Cleland, Robert Hardy (Michigan)

Patti, Anthony P. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Eason, Darryl W. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grill, Erik A. (Michigan)

Judge(s)

Cleland, Robert Hardy (Michigan)

Patti, Anthony P. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Eason, Darryl W. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grill, Erik A. (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Sept. 9, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Aug. 19, 2020 Complaint
6

Opinion and Order Denying in Part Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction and Setting a Preliminary Injunction Hearing

2020 WL 4923694

Aug. 21, 2020 Order/Opinion
12

Opinion and Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction

485 F.Supp.3d 876, 2020 WL 5405878

Sept. 9, 2020 Order/Opinion
13

Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i)

Sept. 9, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Title Description External URL

Eason v. Whitmer

Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

A candidate for The House of Representatives and voter in MI argues that MI’s ballot access procedures in combination with emergency declarations issued in MI violate his 1st and 14th amendment right… Sept. 15, 2020 https://healthyelections-case-tracker.stanford.edu/detail?id=207

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17460711/eason-v-whitmer/

Last updated May 13, 2022

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT filed by Donald Eason against All Defendants. Plaintiff requests summons issued. Receipt No: AMIEDC-7997426 - Fee: $ 400. County of 1st Plaintiff: Jackson - County Where Action Arose: Wayne - County of 1st Defendant: Ingham. [Previously dismissed case: No] [Possible companion case(s): United States District Court- Eastern District of Michigan, 2:20-cv-10831, Judge Terrence G. Berg] (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration) (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

Aug. 19, 2020 Clearinghouse
1

COMPLAINT filed by Donald Eason against All Defendants. Plaintiff requests summons issued. Receipt No: AMIEDC−7997426 − Fee: $ 400. County of 1st Plaintiff: Jackson − County Where Action Arose: Wayne − County of 1st Defendant: Ingham. [Previously dismissed case: No] [Possible companion case(s): United States District Court− Eastern District of Michigan, 2:20−cv−10831, Judge Terrence G. Berg] (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration) (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

Aug. 19, 2020
2

MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order by Donald Eason. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration, # 2 Exhibit List of COVID−19 Orders, # 3 Exhibit Ballot Information from State of Michigan, # 4 Exhibit Accommodations from State of Michigan) (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

Aug. 19, 2020
2

MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order by Donald Eason. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration, # 2 Exhibit List of COVID-19 Orders, # 3 Exhibit Ballot Information from State of Michigan, # 4 Exhibit Accommodations from State of Michigan) (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

Aug. 19, 2020 PACER
3

SUMMONS Issued for *Jocelyn Benson* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020 PACER
3

SUMMONS Issued for *Jocelyn Benson* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020
4

SUMMONS Issued for *Jonathan Brater* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020
4

SUMMONS Issued for *Jonathan Brater* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020 PACER
5

SUMMONS Issued for *Gretchen Whitmer* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020 PACER
5

SUMMONS Issued for *Gretchen Whitmer* (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020

A United States Magistrate Judge of this Court is available to conduct all proceedings in this civil action in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 636c and FRCP 73. The Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge form is available for download at http://www.mied.uscourts.gov (DWor) (Entered: 08/20/2020)

Aug. 20, 2020

A United States Magistrate Judge of this Court is available to conduct all proceedings in this civil action in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 636c and FRCP 73. The Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge form is available for download at http://www.mied.uscourts.gov (DWor)

Aug. 20, 2020 PACER
6

OPINION AND ORDER Denying in Part 2 Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction and Setting a Preliminary Injunction Hearing. Response due by 9/2/2020; Motion Hearing set for 9/10/2020 at 10:00 AM before District Judge Robert H. Cleland. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (MacKay, K) (Entered: 08/21/2020)

Aug. 21, 2020

Notice to Parties of Consent of a Civil Action before a Magistrate Judge Option

Aug. 20, 2020 PACER
6

OPINION AND ORDER Denying in Part 2 Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction and Setting a Preliminary Injunction Hearing. Response due by 9/2/2020; Motion Hearing set for 9/10/2020 at 10:00 AM before District Judge Robert H. Cleland. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (MacKay, K) (Entered: 08/21/2020)

Aug. 21, 2020 Clearinghouse
7

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE: Heather S. Meingast appearing on behalf of Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 08/29/2020)

Aug. 29, 2020
7

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE: Heather S. Meingast appearing on behalf of Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 08/29/2020)

Aug. 29, 2020 PACER
8

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE: Erik A. Grill appearing on behalf of Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer (Grill, Erik) (Entered: 08/29/2020)

Aug. 29, 2020
9

RESPONSE to 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction filed by Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer. (Attachments: # 1 Index of Exhibits Exhibit List, # 2 Exhibit A. Detroit Unity Fund, UDSC−ED opinion, # 3 Exhibit B. Detroit Unity Fund, 6th COA opinion) (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020
8

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE: Erik A. Grill appearing on behalf of Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer (Grill, Erik) (Entered: 08/29/2020)

Aug. 29, 2020 PACER
10

Ex Parte MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages by Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer. (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020
9

RESPONSE to 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction filed by Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer. (Attachments: # 1 Index of Exhibits Exhibit List, # 2 Exhibit A. Detroit Unity Fund, UDSC-ED opinion, # 3 Exhibit B. Detroit Unity Fund, 6th COA opinion) (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020 PACER
10

Ex Parte MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages by Jocelyn Benson, Jonathan Brater, Gretchen Whitmer. (Meingast, Heather) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020 PACER

TEXT−ONLY ORDER GRANTING 10 Ex Parte MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages filed by Jonathan Brater, Jocelyn Benson, Gretchen Whitmer. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020
11

NOTICE OF HEARING BY VIDEO CONFERENCE on 2 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction . Motion Hearing set for 9/10/2020 10:00 AM before District Judge Robert H. Cleland |Zoom Webinar Information: Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://zoom.us/j/97283993765?pwd=bHIzRXVxeFhlVjA4L0wvM2NNdndyZz09Passcode: 818392 Or iPhone one−tap : US: +13126266799,,97283993765#,,,,,,0#,,818392# or +13017158592,,97283993765#,,,,,,0#,,818392#| (LWag) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020

TEXT-ONLY ORDER GRANTING 10 Ex Parte MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages filed by Jonathan Brater, Jocelyn Benson, Gretchen Whitmer. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)

Sept. 2, 2020 PACER

TEXT−ONLY NOTICE: Hearing on 9/10/2020 is Cancelled re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction (LWag) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020
11

NOTICE OF HEARING BY VIDEO CONFERENCE on 2 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction . Motion Hearing set for 9/10/2020 10:00 AM before District Judge Robert H. Cleland |Zoom Webinar Information: Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://zoom.us/j/97283993765?pwd=bHIzRXVxeFhlVjA4L0wvM2NNdndyZz09 Passcode: 818392 Or iPhone one-tap : US: +13126266799,,97283993765#,,,,,,0#,,818392# or +13017158592,,97283993765#,,,,,,0#,,818392#| (LWag) (Entered: 09/02/2020)

Sept. 2, 2020 PACER

Text-Only Order

Sept. 2, 2020 PACER
12

OPINION AND ORDER denying 2 Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020
13

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Donald Eason (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020

TEXT-ONLY NOTICE: Hearing on 9/10/2020 is Cancelled re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction (LWag)

Sept. 9, 2020 PACER
12

OPINION AND ORDER denying 2 Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020 Clearinghouse
13

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Donald Eason (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020 Clearinghouse

Text-Only Notice of Hearing Cancelled

Sept. 9, 2020 PACER

TEXT-ONLY NOTICE: Hearing on 9/10/2020 is Cancelled re 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction (LWag)

Sept. 9, 2020 PACER
12

OPINION AND ORDER denying 2 Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020 RECAP
13

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by Donald Eason (Eason, Darryl) (Entered: 09/09/2020)

Sept. 9, 2020 PACER

Text-Only Notice of Hearing Cancelled

Sept. 9, 2020 PACER

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Closing Date: Sept. 9, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Independent candidate for United States House of Representatives in Michigan's 13th congressional district

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Governor, State

Secretary of State, State

Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting:

Candidate qualifications

Election administration