Rahul Sharma

Meyer v. Grant

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Citations  486 U.S. 414 (more)
End date  1988
Argument  Oral argument
Full case name  Meyer, Colorado Secretary of State, et al. v. Grant et al.
Prior history  Judgment for defendants, statute upheld, 84-JM-1207 (D. Colo.); Affirmed district court, 741 F.2d 1210, 1211 (10th Cir. 1984); Granted rehearing, vacated panel opinion, 780 F.2d 848 (10th Cir. 1985); Judgment for plaintiffs, reversed and remanded, 828 F.2d 1446 (10th Cir. 1987)
Majority  Stevens, joined by unanimous
Similar  NAACP v Button, Republican Party of Minnesot, Buckley v Valeo, Roth v United States, New York Times Co v Sullivan

Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414 (1988), was an important decision by the United States Supreme Court on paid petition circulation. Colorado was one of several states with a process for citizens to propose initiatives for the ballot, which if passed became law. One of the requirements was to get the signatures of a significant number of registered Colorado electors. Colorado prohibited initiative sponsors from paying for the circulation of these petitions. The state argued this was necessary to "protect[...] the integrity of the initiative."

In 1984, Coloradans for Free Enterprise, an interest group, proposed an initiative to deregulate the motor industry by removing it from the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission. After the title and summary were approved by the state, they began unpaid circulation. They eventually concluded that they would not be able to get the 46,737 required signatures by the deadline. They then filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Secretary of State of Colorado, Natalie Meyer, and the Attorney General of Colorado, Duane Woodard, in their official capacities. The plaintiffs alleged that the Colorado statute infringed on their First Amendment rights. The district court, with Judge John P. Moore sitting, declined to overturn the law, finding that "the evidence did not indicate that plaintiffs were prevented in any way from espousing their cause simply because they could not obtain paid petition circulators." The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Judges James Barrett and William Doyle affirmed in a panel opinion. The court granted a rehearing en banc at the plaintiff's request, and vacated the panel's opinion. The full court of appeals reversed and remanded, determining that Colorado's law "impede[d] the sponsors' opportunity to disseminate their views to the public."

The state appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral argument on April 25, 1988. The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision, ruling that "the State has failed to demonstrate that it is necessary to burden appellees' ability to communicate their message in order to meet its concerns."

References

Meyer v. Grant Wikipedia


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