Case: Sinner v. Jaeger

3:20-cv-00076 | U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota

Filed Date: May 6, 2020

Closed Date: June 24, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about whether the U.S. Constitution was violated by the combined pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and North Dakota's in-person signature gathering requirements for ballot initiative petitions. On May 6, 2020, the North Dakota Secretary of State was sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota by four individual voters and North Dakota Voters First (NDVF), the sponsoring committee for a proposed state constitutional amendment related to election procedures an…

This is a case about whether the U.S. Constitution was violated by the combined pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and North Dakota's in-person signature gathering requirements for ballot initiative petitions. On May 6, 2020, the North Dakota Secretary of State was sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota by four individual voters and North Dakota Voters First (NDVF), the sponsoring committee for a proposed state constitutional amendment related to election procedures and nonpartisan redistricting. The state's constitutional and statutory provisions required constitutional amendment proponents to gather "wet" petition signatures in person and to affirm the validity of those signatures in person before a notary. Electronic signatures were not permitted. The plaintiffs claimed that under the circumstances of social distancing and other public health precautions during COVID-19, these in-person procedural requirements burdened their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Represented by the Campaign Legal Center and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief and attorneys' fees.

The plaintiffs moved on May 7, 2020, for a preliminary injunction that would make the in-person signature gathering requirements unenforceable and require the Secretary of State to accept electronic signatures for their petition in advance of the November 3, 2020, general election. On June 15, 2020, Judge Peter D. Welte denied the motion, ruling that the plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail on their First Amendment claim because North Dakota's specific pandemic response measures did not severely limit NDVF's ability to reach their audience and gather signatures. The court held that the state's interest in protecting the integrity of the electoral process outweighed the moderate First Amendment burden created by pandemic precautions. 467 F. Supp. 3d 774.

Faced with an impending petition signature deadline of July 6, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a stipulation of dismissal on June 22, 2020. Two days later, the court adopted their stipulation. The case is closed.

Summary Authors

Christina Van Wagenen (1/4/2023)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17132521/parties/sinner-v-jaeger/


Judge(s)
Attorney for Plaintiff

Billion, Timothy (South Dakota)

Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia)

Greenwood, Ruth (Massachusetts)

Harless, Annabelle Elizabeth (Illinois)

Lamar, Christopher (District of Columbia)

Attorney for Defendant

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

3:20-cv-00076

Docket [PACER]

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

Docket
1

3:20-cv-00076

Complaint

May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020

Complaint
32

3:20-cv-00076

Order Denying Motion for Preliminary Injunction

June 15, 2020

June 15, 2020

Order/Opinion

467 F.Supp.3d 467

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17132521/sinner-v-jaeger/

Last updated April 9, 2024, 3:11 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against Al Jaeger (Filing fee $400, receipt number: 320000278) filed by Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(js) Modified to add additional party on 5/7/2020. NEF regenerated (pb) (Entered: 05/06/2020)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020

Clearinghouse
2

Summons Issued as to Al Jaeger. (js) (Entered: 05/06/2020)

May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020

PACER
3

MOTION to Appear Pro Hac Vice Attorney Annabelle E. Harless (Filing fee $150, receipt number ANDDC-1950811) by Lois Altenburg, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner, North Dakota Voters First. (Harless, Annabelle) Modified to add additional party on 5/7/2020. NEF regenerated (pb). Modified on 5/7/2020 to add receipt number (cjs). (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER

DOCKET CORRECTION re: 1 COMPLAINT and 3 MOTION. Clerk's Office added North Dakota Voters First as Plaintiff to action. Party missed at time of case opening. North Dakota Voters First added as additional plaintiff of record. (pb)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
4

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Purdon, Timothy) (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
5

MEMORANDUM in Support re 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Sawicki Delcaration, # 2 Exhibit 2 - EO 2020-03, # 3 Exhibit 3 - EO 2020-06, # 4 Exhibit 4 - EO 2020-05, # 5 Exhibit 5 - EO 2020-10, # 6 Exhibit 6 - EO 2020-13, # 7 Exhibit 7 - EO 2020-06.1, # 8 Exhibit 8 - EO 2020.06.2, # 9 Exhibit 9 - EO 2020.06.3, # 10 Exhibit 10 - EO 2020-16, # 11 Exhibit 11 - EO 2020-19, # 12 Exhibit 12 - EO 2020-19.1, # 13 Exhibit 13 - EO 2020-22, # 14 Exhibit 14 - Dept of Health Order 2020-07, # 15 Exhibit 15 - EO 2020-06.4, # 16 Exhibit 16 - DND Admin. Order, # 17 Exhibit 17 - ND Sup. Ct. Admin. Order, # 18 Exhibit 18 - Oxendahl Declaration, # 19 Exhibit 19 - Altenburg Declaration, # 20 Exhibit 20 - Sinner Declaration, # 21 Exhibit 21 - Quamme Declaration, # 22 Exhibit 22 - Esshaki Opinion, # 23 Exhibit 23 - Levy-Pollans Declaration)(Purdon, Timothy) (Attachment 22 replaced on 5/8/2020 to correct overlapping filing headers) (cjs). Regenerated on 5/8/2020 (cjs). (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
6

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SERVICE Executed as to 1 Complaint, 2 Summons Issued filed by Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, North Dakota Voters First, Carol Sawicki, Lois Altenburg. Al Jaeger served on 5/7/2020, answer due 5/28/2020. (Purdon, Timothy) (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
7

(Text Only) ORDER by Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal granting 3 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice for Attorney Annabelle Harless. (cjs) (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
8

MOTION to Appear Pro Hac Vice Attorney Ruth Merewyn Greenwood (Filing fee $150, receipt number ANDDC-1950942) by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Greenwood, Ruth) Modified on 5/7/2020 to add receipt number (cjs). (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
9

MOTION to Appear Pro Hac Vice Attorney Christopher Lamar (Filing fee $150, receipt number ANDDC-1950931) by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Lamar, Christopher) Modified on 5/7/2020 to add receipt number (cjs). (Entered: 05/07/2020)

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020

PACER
10

NOTICE of Appearance by David R. Phillips on behalf of Al Jaeger (Phillips, David) (Entered: 05/08/2020)

May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

PACER
11

NOTICE of Appearance by Matthew A. Sagsveen on behalf of Al Jaeger (Sagsveen, Matthew) (Entered: 05/08/2020)

May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

PACER
12

(Text Only) ORDER by Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal granting 8 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice for Attorney Ruth Merewyn Greenwood; granting 9 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice for Attorney Christopher Lamar. (cjs) (Entered: 05/08/2020)

May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

PACER
13

MOTION to Expedite Briefing Schedule (Assented) by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Purdon, Timothy) (Entered: 05/08/2020)

May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

PACER
14

(Text Only) ORDER by Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal granting unopposed 13 Motion to Expedite Briefing Schedule re 4 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Response is due by 5/20/2020. Reply is due by 5/22/2020. (LF) (Entered: 05/11/2020)

May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020

PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines as to 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction . Responses due by 5/20/2020 Replies due by 5/22/2020. (rh)

May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020

PACER
15

MOTION to Appear Pro Hac Vice Attorney Simone Leeper (Filing fee $150, receipt number BNDDC-1953822) by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Leeper, Simone) Modified on 5/18/2020 to add receipt number. (rh) (Entered: 05/15/2020)

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

PACER
16

(Text Only) ORDER by Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal granting 15 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice for Attorney Simone Leeper. (rh) (Entered: 05/18/2020)

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

PACER
17

RESPONSE to Motion re 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Al Jaeger. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit of Jaeger, # 2 Exhibit 1 to Affidavit of Jaeger-History of Initiative and Referendum, # 3 Exhibit 2 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Article III, ND Constitution, # 4 Exhibit 3 to Affidavit of Jaeger-NDCC 16.1-01-09, # 5 Exhibit 4 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Excerpts of Initiating Publication, # 6 Exhibit 5 to Affidavit of Jaeger-2019-2021 Edition Table of Contents, # 7 Exhibit 6 to Affidavit of Jaeger-2019-2021 Initiating and Referring Law in ND, # 8 Exhibit 7 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Website excerpts, # 9 Exhibit 8 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Letter dated 3/6/2020, # 10 Exhibit 9 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Letter dated 03/17/2020, # 11 Exhibit 10 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Letter dated 04/30/2020, # 12 Exhibit 11 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Affidavit, # 13 Exhibit 12 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Letter acknowledging receipt, # 14 Exhibit 13 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Voter postcards, # 15 Exhibit 14 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Detailed guideline for review process, # 16 Exhibit 15 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Worksheet and final tally sheet, # 17 Exhibit 16 to Affidavit of Jaeger-Letter approving placement, # 18 Exhibit 17 to Affidavit of Jaeger-NDCC 16.1-01-12, # 19 Exhibit 18 - E.O. 2020-06.6, # 20 Exhibit 19 - Order in New Approach v. MT, # 21 Affidavit of Silrum)(Phillips, David) Modified on 5/21/2020 to add descriptions for Exhibits 1-17 (cjs). (Entered: 05/20/2020)

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

PACER
18

NOTICE of Appearance by Mark Gaber on behalf of Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner (Gaber, Mark) (Entered: 05/20/2020)

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

PACER

DOCKET CORRECTION re: 17 Response to Motion. Clerk's Office added descriptions for Exhibits 1-17. (cjs)

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020

PACER
19

NOTICE of Hearing: Status Conference set for 5/27/2020 at 09:00 AM by telephone before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte. Counsel provided conference call dial-in information via e-mail. (EA) (Entered: 05/22/2020)

May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

PACER
20

REPLY to Response to Motion re 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1: Thompson v. DeWine Opinion & Order, # 2 Exhibit 2: Jacobson Declaration)(Gaber, Mark) (Entered: 05/22/2020)

May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

PACER
21

NOTICE by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner re 20 Reply to Response to Motion, Notice of Filing Corrected Declaration of Amy Jacobson (with attachments) (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 2: Corrected Jacobson Declaration (with attachments))(Gaber, Mark) (Entered: 05/22/2020)

May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

PACER
22

NOTICE of Hearing on 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction: Motion Hearing set for 6/4/2020 at 02:00 PM CT in Fargo Courtroom 1 before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte. (EA) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
23

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte: Status Conference held on 5/27/2020. (DR #05272020 sinner v jaeger) (lh) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
24

MOTION to Appear Pro Hac Vice Attorney Robert N. Weiner (Filing fee $150, receipt number: ANDDC-1959543) by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Weiner, Robert) Modified on 5/27/2020 to add receipt number to docket text. (js) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
25

(Text Only) ORDER by Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal granting 24 Motion to Appear Pro Hac Vice for Attorney Robert Neil Weiner. (js) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
26

ANSWER to 1 Complaint, by Al Jaeger.(Phillips, David) (Entered: 05/28/2020)

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

PACER
27

NOTICE of Supplemental Authority in Support of 20 REPLY to Response to Motion by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner Notice of Supplemental Authority (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Miller v. Thurston Opinion and Order, # 2 Exhibit 2 - Thompson v. DeWine Sixth Circuit Opinion)(Harless, Annabelle) Modified on 6/3/2020 to add link and exhibit numbers to docket text; Attachment 1 replaced on 6/3/2020 to remove double header - NEF Regenerated. (js) (Entered: 06/02/2020)

June 2, 2020

June 2, 2020

PACER
28

AFFIDAVIT Second Declaration of Amy Jacobson re 5 MEMORANDUM in Support,,,, by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Leeper, Simone) (Entered: 06/03/2020)

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

PACER

DOCKET CORRECTION re: 27 NOTICE (Other). Clerks office added link to docket entry and added exhibit numbers to docket text. Clerks Office also removed double header from attachment/exhibit 1. (js)

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

PACER
29

NOTICE by Al Jaeger re 17 Response to Motion,,,,, (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Executive Order 2020-06.7)(Phillips, David) (Entered: 06/03/2020)

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

PACER
30

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Chief Judge Peter D. Welte: Motion Hearing held on 6/4/2020 re 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, North Dakota Voters First, Lois Altenburg. (Court Reporter kk) (lh) (Entered: 06/04/2020)

June 4, 2020

June 4, 2020

PACER
31

SURREPLY to 4 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Al Jaeger. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Miller v. Thurston, # 2 Exhibit 2 - Arizonans for Fair Elections v Hobbs, # 3 Exhibit 3 - Morgan v White, # 4 Exhibit 4 - Fair Maps Nevada v Cegavske, # 5 Exhibit 5 - Thompson v Dewine, # 6 Exhibit 6 - Self Advocacy Solutions ND v Jaeger)(Phillips, David) (Entered: 06/08/2020)

6

View on RECAP

June 8, 2020

June 8, 2020

PACER
32

ORDER by Chief Judge Peter D. Welte denying 4 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (MK) (Entered: 06/15/2020)

June 15, 2020

June 15, 2020

RECAP
33

STIPULATION of Dismissal by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Purdon, Timothy) (Entered: 06/22/2020)

June 22, 2020

June 22, 2020

RECAP
33

STIPULATION of Dismissal by Lois Altenburg, North Dakota Voters First, Whitney Oxendahl, Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner. (Purdon, Timothy) (Entered: 06/22/2020)

June 22, 2020

June 22, 2020

RECAP
34

ORDER Adopting 33 Stipulation of Dismissal filed by Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, North Dakota Voters First, and Lois Altenburg by Chief Judge Peter D. Welte. (EA) (Entered: 06/24/2020)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER
34

ORDER Adopting 33 Stipulation of Dismissal filed by Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, North Dakota Voters First, and Lois Altenburg by Chief Judge Peter D. Welte. (EA) (Entered: 06/24/2020)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER
34

ORDER Adopting 33 Stipulation of Dismissal filed by Carol Sawicki, Elizabeth Jane Sinner, Whitney Oxendahl, North Dakota Voters First, and Lois Altenburg by Chief Judge Peter D. Welte. (EA) (Entered: 06/24/2020)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER

Civil Case Terminated. (as)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER

Civil Case Terminated. (as)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER

Civil Case Terminated. (as)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: North Dakota

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 6, 2020

Closing Date: June 24, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Four individual voters and North Dakota Voters First, an organization seeking to include a state constitutional amendment on the ballot

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Secretary of State of North Dakota, 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):

Freedom of speech/association

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

Voting:

Election administration

Redistricting/district composition

Vote dilution

Voting: General & Misc.