Calling the law “clearly invalid,” a federal judge in North Dakota today ruled that the state’s 100-year-old ban on election-day campaigning is unconstitutional.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Competitive Politics, a pro-free speech group. The Center represents Gary Emineth, who wishes to post yard signs on his property, distribute fliers, and discuss the upcoming election with his neighbors. The North Dakota statute bans any person, on election day, from “in any manner trying to induce or persuade” others to support or oppose any candidate or ballot measure.
Judge Daniel L. Hovland of the U.S. District Court for North Dakota ruled that the ban “imposes a prior restraint on protected speech” and “is an unreasonable restraint on constitutionally-protected speech.” He noted that “[o]ne can hardly conceive of a statute less narrowly tailored than a blanket prohibition on all election-related speech.” The Court went on to find “no valid justification for the law in modern day society, nor any compelling state interest offered to support its continued existence.”