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Case Name Morgan v. White VR-IL-0132
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-02189 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: An Illinois ballot initiative advocacy organization filed this case seeking injunctive relief requiring state and local officials to accept online signatures to authorize the addition of ballot referenda in light of public health measures adopted in response to COVID-19.
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COVID-19 Summary: An Illinois ballot initiative advocacy organization filed this case seeking injunctive relief requiring state and local officials to accept online signatures to authorize the addition of ballot referenda in light of public health measures adopted in response to COVID-19.


The Committee for the Illinois Democracy Amendment (a ballot initiative organization) and several of its members filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on April 7, 2020. The complaint alleged that requiring the collection of in-person signatures to authorize ballot referenda during the COVID-19 public health emergency violated the plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. They sought declaratory judgment as well as temporary and permanent injunctive relief. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sued a group of state and local officials and members of the Illinois Board of Elections. The case was assigned to Judge Charles Norgle, Sr.

Two days after filing the complaint, on April 9, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs requested an injunction requiring defendants to create an online forum for signing ballot referenda petitions so Illinois voters can participate in the democratic process while taking public health precautions. They also requested that the number of signatures required for the addition of ballot referenda under Article XIV and Article VII of the Illinois Constitution be reduced by 50%.

The defendants filed a response to the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction on April 15, 2020. Around that time, several individual defendants filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, lack of standing, and lack of jurisdiction. After a status hearing on April 17, the court denied the plaintiffs motion for preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on April 27, 2020, adding a claim that contended that the Illinois state Constitution required uniform application of ballot access. The plaintiffs also filed a motion for reconsideration, but the court denied the motion shortly thereafter. 2020 WL 2526484. In an opinion written by Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, the court expressed doubt about the plaintiffs' standing given that they had not demonstrated that their injury is traceable to any of the challenged actions by the defendant. Even if the plaintiffs had standing, Judge Pallmeyer thought it was unlikely that they would succeed on the merits given that the plaintiffs had sixteen months to circulate their petitions for signatures, extending well before the COVID pandemic began.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit, but on July 8 the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. 964 F.3d 649. In a per curiam opinion, the Seventh Circuit also noted that the plaintiff failed to indicate interest in gathering signatures until a few weeks after the Governor of Illinois issued social-distancing orders. As such, the preliminary injunction was denied.

On August 11, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims. The case is now closed.

Alex Moody - 06/20/2020
Mary Novakovic - 10/10/2020
Justin Hill - 12/19/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Voting
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Illinois State Board of Elections
Plaintiff Description Committee for the Illinois Democracy Amendment (a ballot initiative advocacy organization) and several of its members
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
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 04/07/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ill.
08/13/2020
1:20-cv-2189
VR-IL-0132-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ill.
04/07/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-7)]
VR-IL-0132-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/09/2020
Emergency Motion for Preliminary or Permanent Injunction and Declaration as a Matter of Law [ECF# 4]
VR-IL-0132-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/09/2020
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for a Preliminary or Permanent Injunction and Declaration as a Matter of Law [ECF# 6]
VR-IL-0132-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/15/2020
Defendant Devon Reid's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary or Permanent Injunction and Declaration as a Matter of Law [ECF# 14, 14-1]
VR-IL-0132-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/15/2020
Defendant Devon Reid's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 15, 15-1]
VR-IL-0132-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/16/2020
Defendant Cook County Clerk's 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint [ECF# 18]
VR-IL-0132-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/16/2020
Memorandum of Law Filed in Support of the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) and 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint Filed by Defendant Cook County Clerk [ECF# 19]
VR-IL-0132-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/16/2020
Defendant Jesse White's Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for a Preliminary or Permanent Injunction and Declaration as a Matter of Law [ECF# 20, 20-1]
VR-IL-0132-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/16/2020
Defendant State Board of Elections' Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Preliminary or permanent Injunction and Declaration as a Matter of Law [ECF# 21]
VR-IL-0132-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/27/2020
Amended Verified Complaint for Emergency Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 26 (& 26-1 to 26-6)]
VR-IL-0132-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
04/28/2020
Emergency Motion to Reconsider in Light of New Developments and to Correct the Record [ECF# 29, 29-1, 29-2]
VR-IL-0132-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
05/11/2020
Defendant Devon Reid's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 40]
VR-IL-0132-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
05/11/2020
Memorandum of Law Filed in Support of the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint Filed by Defendant Cook County Clerk [ECF# 43]
VR-IL-0132-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ill.
05/18/2020
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 50] (2020 WL 2526484)
VR-IL-0132-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
07/08/2020
Opinion (964 F.3d 649)
VR-IL-0132-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Hamilton, David Frank (S.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0015
Kanne, Michael Stephen (N.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0015
Norgle, Charles Ronald Sr. (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-9000
Pallmeyer, Rebecca R. (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0010
Plaintiff's Lawyers Griffis, Carson (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0015
Leahu, Sorin A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0001 | VR-IL-0132-0002 | VR-IL-0132-0008 | VR-IL-0132-0011 | VR-IL-0132-0015
Mauck, John W. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0001 | VR-IL-0132-0002 | VR-IL-0132-0008 | VR-IL-0132-0009 | VR-IL-0132-0011 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Quinn, Pat (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0001 | VR-IL-0132-0002 | VR-IL-0132-0008 | VR-IL-0132-0009 | VR-IL-0132-0011 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cummings, Nicholas E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0003 | VR-IL-0132-0004 | VR-IL-0132-0007 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Dierkes, Michael T. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0006 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Foxx, Kimberly M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0005 | VR-IL-0132-0012 | VR-IL-0132-0014
Gandurski, Kelley A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0003 | VR-IL-0132-0004 | VR-IL-0132-0007 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Masters, Silvia Mercado (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0005 | VR-IL-0132-0012 | VR-IL-0132-0014 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Raoul, Kwame (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0013
Ruggie, Alexandra Brien MacKey (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0003 | VR-IL-0132-0004 | VR-IL-0132-0007 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Scheller, Jessica Megan (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0005 | VR-IL-0132-0012 | VR-IL-0132-0015 | VR-IL-0132-9000
Walsh, Erin (Illinois) show/hide docs
VR-IL-0132-0013 | VR-IL-0132-9000

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