U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup rules from the bench that plaintiffs made ‘absolutely no showing of a violation of federal law’
SAN FRANCISCO (June 1, 2016)—A federal judge in San Francisco delivered a blistering rejection to a bid by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for an emergency court order that would have imposed significant eleventh hour requirements on elections officials in California’s June 7 Presidential Primary.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup described allegations by plaintiffs’ counsel as “hot air” shortly before ruling verbally from the bench, colorfully noting that “there’s not a single decision in the history of the universe” equating plaintiffs’ alleged facts with a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Alsup added that plaintiffs’ made “absolutely no showing of a violation of federal law.”
“I’m gratified by the court’s ruling, which strongly affirms what we said from the beginning: that literally every violation these plaintiffs alleged was inaccurate,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “I think it’s unfortunate that plaintiffs proceeded with litigation, even after we took time to demonstrate that their case had no basis in reality. We’ll never know for sure if this lawsuit was just a political stunt, but I think Judge Alsup summed it up well in two words: ‘hot air.’”
San Francisco, Alameda County, and state elections officials were sued on May 20 by an unincorporated association of Sanders backers called the “Voting Rights Defense Project,” who together with the American Independence Party and two San Francisco voters leveled an array of allegations that Herrera called wholly baseless. Specifics of the injunction order sought by Sanders’ supporters included: requiring poll workers in California’s 58 counties to individually inform “no party preference” voters of their right to request a partisan presidential primary ballot; compelling statewide television, radio, internet and email announcements to inform voters about state election laws; and, “if possible,” to extend California’s voter registration deadline—which already passed on May 23 for eligibility to vote in the June 7 primary—until election day itself. The original civil complaint filed on May 20 sought additional injunctive relief, which included a requirement for California elections officials segregate ballots already cast by unaffiliated voters, and to allow “re-votes” by those voters for presidential primary candidates.
The case is: Voting Rights Defense Project et al. v. Tim Depuis et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:16-CV-02739, filed May 20, 2016. Complete case documentation is available here.
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