UACES Facebook Lawsuit Claims AG Review of Ballot Measures is Unconstitutional
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Lawsuit Claims AG Review of Ballot Measures is Unconstitutional

by Kristin Higgins - May 17, 2018

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A second group wanting access to the November ballot has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge after she rejected the title and wording of their proposed constitutional amendment.

Time is running out for groups seeking to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. There is a June 6 deadline to publish proposed ballot titles in a newspaper and a July 6 deadline to collect and submit 84,859 voter signatures. 

The Arkansas Supreme Court rejected an attempt last month by Driving Arkansas Forward to force the Attorney General to approve its ballot title for a constitutional amendment that seeks to legalize casinos in certain parts of the state. 
Now a second group has filed a similar lawsuit after Rutledge rejected the title and text of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow legislators to pass legislation that include a waiver of the state's immunity to lawsuits. 

The lawsuit filed by Alex Gray on behalf of the Committee to Restore Arkansans' Rights points out that Rutledge has rejected every proposed ballot title since the November 2016 election. She did approve one ballot title in October 2016 that allowed supporters of the Arkansas Term Limits Amendment to move forward in collecting signatures.

Ballot issue groups can't collect signatures until the Attorney General approves their proposed title and text of their measures. Rutledge has found issues with the text in all the proposals, saying the Arkansas Supreme Court has set a high standard for certifying proposals and she was upholding those standards.
The Committee to Restore Arkansans' Rights contends that a state law requiring the Attorney General to approve ballot titles is unconstitutional. They point out that Article 5, Section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution, which allows people to propose constitutional amendments, states "no legislation shall be enacted to restrict, hamper or impair the exercise of the rights herein reserved to the people."

The group says their ballot title is clear, concise and not misleading as required by Ark. Code Ann. 7-9-107 but that Rutledge is restricting, hampering or impairing their right to propose the amendment through her refusal to approve or certify the ballot title or substitute a more suitable title. Rutledge has twice rejected the Committee to Restore Arkansans' Rights proposed amendment.

A hearing on the case has been set for 10 a.m. Friday in the fifth Division of the Pulaski County Circuit Court in Little Rock. 
Gray, who also represents Driving Arkansas Forward, filed a request that the casino group join in on this lawsuit after Rutledge rejected its proposed ballot title and text for the fifth time this month.
Voters in November will decide the fate of two constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature, Issue 1 (SJR8) and Issue 2 (HJR1016).

Read the rest of our May ballot issue education newsletter
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The Public Policy Center has published nonpartisan fact sheets on Arkansas' statewide ballot issues since 2004. We welcome your questions at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and look for our posts with the hashtag #ARballot