Soltysik v. Padilla, No. 16-55758 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a candidate for public office in California, challenged the California Elections Code, which mandated that the primary ballot list his party preference as "None" instead of the Socialist Party USA.
The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that California, at this very early stage of the litigation, failed to demonstrate as a matter of law why its ballot must describe plaintiff as having no party preference when in fact he preferred the Socialist Party USA. The panel agreed with the Secretary of State that the burden the California statutes imposed on plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights was not severe. However, the burden imposed on plaintiff's rights was more than "slight" and warranted scrutiny that was neither strict nor wholly deferential. In this case, the primary purported justification for the statutes—avoiding voter confusion—was an important government interest, but it was unclear why less burdensome and less misleading alternatives would not accomplish the state's goals.