State Supreme Court Bars 2 Issues, Leaves 1 on November Ballot
Arkansas’ Supreme Court today invalidated two of seven issues on your November 8 ballot, and dismissed the only legal challenge to one of the medical marijuana issues. Issue 6 will now remain on the ballot while votes for Issues 4 and 5 will not be counted.
UPDATE 10/31/2016: Arkansans for Compassionate Care today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse its ruling striking Issue 7 from the November ballot for invalid signatures, saying “The Legislature essentially created a trap because it upended many years of prior practice. Issue 7 is the first catch of that trap. If this decision stands, there may be no future grassroots efforts simply because of lack of money.”
UPDATE 10/27/2016: Issue 7, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, was struck from the ballot today by the Arkansas Supreme Court, who ruled that canvassers didn’t correctly follow new canvasser requirements (among other problems). As a result, votes for Issue 7 will not be tabulated (the issue remains on the ballot). Read the split court’s opinion, written by Justice Karen Baker, here.
UPDATE 10/18/2016: Arkansas Wins 2016, in support of Issue 5, asked the Court to rehear its decision to strike the measure from the ballot, saying the potential conflict in the title over sports gambling was not an essential fact voters need to know, because sports gambling is not essential to the proposal.
Supporters had five days from the October 13 rulings to ask the Supreme Court to rehear the dismissed cases.
Issue 4 (Medical Malpractice Tort Reform) and Issue 5 (Casino Gambling in 3 Specific Locations in Arkansas) were declared “insufficient” on their ballot titles, but the Court dismissed another lawsuit challenging Issue 6’s title.
Issue 4, Tort Reform
The Court ruled Issue 4’s “ballot title is insufficient on the issue of the term ‘noneconomic damages.’ (see opinion here) Justice Paul Danielson wrote the Court’s primary opinion, while Chief Justice Howard Brill and Justice Rhonda Wood wrote separate concurring opinions.
Wood agreed with the majority opinion that cited a defect on one of the 10 points opponents cited in their lawsuit. However, Wood said the Court should have issued opinions on all 10 points (which would have taken the form of a rarely issued advisory opinion):
We presumably do not want to “hide the ball” from ballot-title sponsors. These sponsors are entitled to know each of the defects their ballot title contains so, in the future, they can submit a ballot title that complies with the law.
Justice Jo Hart wrote the opinion on the bifurcated piece of the case, with Brill and Wood providing separate concurrences that echoed their concurrences to the Danielson opinion. (see opinion here)
Issue 5, Casino Gambling
Today’s Court said Issue 5’s “ballot title is legally insufficient” because it “does not inform voters the measure would violate federal law,” therefore it “does not honestly and accurately reflect what is contained in the proposed Amendment.” (read opinion here) Justice Karen Baker wrote the opinion, with Brill providing a separate concurrence. Special Justice Warren Dupwe (replacement for recused Justice Courtney Goodson) voted with the majority, while Wood dissented.
As stated in the lawsuit, Issue 5 would have allowed casinos to “accept wagers on sporting events or other events” and offer “any game, device, or type of wagering (as) permitted at a casino operated within … Nevada.” The federal PASPA (“Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act”) specifically prohibits states from authorizing sports gambling.
Issue 6, Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment
In their ruling, the Court pointed out that Issue 6’s title is “virtually identical” to the other medical marijuana measure on our ballot, Issue 7.
The Court then cited its own recent ruling in the suit (dismissed by the Court) that challenged Issue 7’s title. They said the Issue 6 case “raised the first three issues” contained in this Issue 7 case, and that the Court had “determined that they (the issues) were without merit.” (parentheses added for clarity) The Court “concluded that while inside the voting booth, the voters will be able to reach an intelligent and informed decision” on Issue 6.