Lopez Torres v. N.Y. State Bd. of Elections

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In Lopez Torres v. N.Y. State Bd. of Elections, 462 F.3d 161 (2nd Cir. 2006), the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that New York's process for nominating New York Supreme Court Justices likely violated the First Amendment rights of candidates and voters.

The 3-judge panel unanimously found,nostra sponte, that the association Common Cause/NY had associational standing to pursue this challenge because the record establishes that:

  • (1) there exists a clear likelihood that its members -- 20,000 voters from across New York State -- have suffered a concrete injury to their First Amendment rights that is fairly traceable to defendants' conduct and can be remedied by court action;
  • (2) the First Amendment associational interests that this suit seeks to vindicate are germane to Common Cause/NY's purpose of making "government more responsive and open to citizens, [restoring] ethics in government, and [curbing] the influence of special interest money in politics"; and
  • (3) neither the claim asserted nor the injunctive and declaratory relief requested requires that Common Cause/NY's individual members participate in the suit. See generally Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Advert. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 343-44, 97 S. Ct. 2434, 53 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1977); cf. Common Cause v. Bolger, 512 F. Supp. 26, 29-31 (D.D.C. 1980) (three judge panel).

The Court affirmed an injunction by the trial court against enforcing N.Y. Elec. L. ยงยง 6-106, -124.

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