Second Lawsuit in Three Weeks Challenges Nebraska Petition Restrictions

Wed, Jan 6 2010 by Anonymous

Nebraska resident Kent Bernbeck has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on paying campaign workers who circulate petitions by the signature and requirement that petition circulators be over the age of 18. This is in addition to a lawsuit filed last month by the ACLU on behalf of Citizens in Charge (a partner organization of Citizens in Charge Foundation) challenging the state’s residency requirement for petition circulators, distribution requirement for petitions, and requirement that petitions say whether the person holding them is paid or volunteer (“Scarlet Letter” law).

Most of these restrictions - including payment per signature, residency, and distribution requirements - have been ruled unconstitutional in other states. Requiring petition circulators to be residents in particular has been found recently by federal courts to be “unquestionably unconstitutional”. A copy of the complaint is available here.

Lawsuits can be a very powerful tool in protecting initiative and referendum rights from restriction and encroachment by state legislators. You can check out some other important legal cases related to initiative and referendum rights here.