United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF SOUTH DAKOTA; KEN SANTEMA, State Chair of the Libertarian Party of South Dakota; BOB NEWLAND; CONSTITUTION PARTY OF SOUTH DAKOTA; LORI STACEY, State Chair of the Constitution Party of South Dakota; and JOY HOWE, Plaintiffs,
SHANTEL KREBS, in her official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of South Dakota; and MARTY J. JACKLEY, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
brought suit against defendants seeking in part a declaratory
judgment that SDCL 12-5-1 is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs
also sought a permanent injunction that would require the
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs to place two
Constitution Party candidates on the November 2016 general
election ballot. Docket 60. This court denied the motion.
Plaintiffs now move the court to reconsider its order. The
court denies plaintiffs' motion.
filed their initial complaint on June 15, 2015. Docket 1.
Plaintiffs brought suit challenging the newly signed
legislation SB 69. Id. at 4. The bill amended SDCL
12-5-1 so that a new political party needed to submit its
petition for state recognition to the Secretary of State by
the first Tuesday in March rather than the last Tuesday in
March. Id. After plaintiffs filed their complaint, a
referendum petition signed by South Dakota voters was
submitted to the South Dakota Secretary of State. Docket 9 at
2-3. After the Secretary of State's Office reviewed the
petition and found that the required number of valid
signatures were present, the Secretary of State's Office
scheduled SB 69 to appear on the 2016 general election
ballot. Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss this case
as moot. Docket 8. Plaintiffs responded by filing a motion to
amend the complaint. Docket 12. This court denied
defendants' motion to dismiss and granted plaintiffs'
motion to amend. Docket 18.
plaintiffs' filed their amended complaint, challenging
the constitutionality of SDCL 12-5-1 as currently written.
Docket 19. Defendants filed their answer in which they
explained that SDCL 12-5-1 “only applies to new
political parties that seek to organize and
participate in the primary election[, ]” and that
“[n]ew political parties are not precluded from
organizing and nominating candidates at a state convention as
provided in SDCL 12-5-21.” Docket 21 at 3. Plaintiffs
were surprised by defendants' reading of SDCL 12-5-1.
Docket 29 at 2. Plaintiffs described the defendants'
reading of SDCL 12-5-1 as a “sudden change in
policy” that was unlike any in recent history.
Id. at 2-3. Because the parties interpreted SDCL
12-5-1 in radically different ways, the issues surrounding
plaintiffs' challenge to the statute became muddled.
the briefing on defendants' first motion for summary
judgment, defendants argued that SDCL 12-5-1 was
constitutional because the statute helped the state maintain
the integrity of the ballot and ensured that the Secretary of
State's Office had enough time to meet its obligations.
Docket 26. Plaintiffs, in part, responded that the
defendants' new interpretation of SDCL 12-5-1-which
allowed SDCL 12-5-21 candidates to forgo a primary election-
showed that defendants had no rational interest in
“confer[ring] on one set of candidates a July 11
[petition] deadline while saddling another set with a March
29 deadline.” Docket 33. In essence, plaintiffs argued
South Dakota could not force a political party's
candidates to participate in a primary election when certain
elected offices were exempt from participation. In denying
defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court found
that it could not “determine as a matter of law on this
record that the burden imposed on the plaintiffs' right
to ballot access is greater than South Dakota's interest
in enforcing SDCL 12-5-1[.]” Docket 43 at 13.
Additionally, the court denied summary judgment to defendants
on plaintiffs' disparate treatment claim “[b]ecause
South Dakota has not given any reason for the disparate
treatment[.]” Id. at 15.
again motions for summary judgment are before the court.
Docket 44; Docket 54. The court has not ruled on the motions
for summary judgment. Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a
permanent injunction that would enjoin Secretary of State
Krebs from continuing to refuse to place the names of Kent
Evans and Wayne Schmidt on the upcoming general election
ballot as Constitution Party Candidates for the office of
United States Senate and State House, respectively. Docket
60. The court denied that motion. Docket 68. Plaintiffs now
move under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) for the court to reconsider its
order denying the relief requested in the motion for
60(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
court to relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or
proceeding due to “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or
excusable neglect[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). The rule
is grounded in equity and it “is to be given a liberal
construction so as to do substantial justice and
‘prevent the judgment from becoming a vehicle of
injustice.' ” MIF Realty L.P. v. Rochester
Assocs., 92 F.3d 752, 755 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. A & P Steel, Inc., 733
F.2d 509, 515 (8th Cir. 1984)). Its purpose is “to
preserve the delicate balance between the sanctity of final
judgments . . . and the incessant command of a court's
conscience that justice be done in light of all the
facts.” Id. At the same time, “[r]elief
under Rule 60(b) is an extraordinary remedy that lies within
the discretion of the trial court.” Hunter v.
Underwood, 362 F.3d 468, 475 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting
In re Design Classics, Inc., 788 F.2d 1384, 1386
(8th Cir. 1986)). “Thus, relief will not be granted
under Rule 60(b)(1) merely because a party is unhappy with
the judgment. Consequently, “[r]eversal of a district
court's denial of a Rule 60(b) motion is rare because
Rule 60(b) authorizes relief in only the most exceptional of
cases.” Noah v. Bond Cold Storage, 408 F.3d
1043, 1045 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Int'l Bhd. of
Elec. Workers v. Hope Elec. Corp., 293 F.3d 409, 415
(8th Cir. 2002)).
in their motion for reconsideration, argue three points: (1)
this court has already addressed the disparate treatment
issue; (2) the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require this
court to grant plaintiffs' requested relief because
plaintiffs are entitled to relief; and (3) this court has a
duty to remedy violations of federal rights. Docket 70.
The court's prior memorandum opinion and order
court's prior order found that defendants had not shown
that defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor as a
matter of law on plaintiffs' disparate treatment claim.
That does not mean, however, that plaintiffs' are
entitled as a matter of law to summary judgment in their
favor. The amended complaint focuses on the nomination of
presidential candidates. Docket 19 at 7. Plaintiffs'
motion for a permanent injunction, however, involves
Constitution Party candidates who were not running for
president. Docket 60. The relief plaintiffs now seek is
outside of the parameters of plaintiffs' amended
complaint regardless of this court's prior order.
Plaintiffs provide no legal authority for how the court can
overlook that fact. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has
explained that the complaint “must provide the
defendant with fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Adams v.
Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 813 F.3d 1151, 1154 (8th Cir.
2016). Here, plaintiffs' amended complaint does not
provide defendants sufficient notice of the grounds upon
which plaintiffs' request a permanent injunction for
candidates who are running for the United States Senate and
the state House of Representatives.
the specific relief sought by the Constitution Party could
not be granted to these particular candidates because the
Constitution Party complied with SDCL 12-5-1. The reason both
candidates are not on the general election ballot is because
they failed to comply with SDCL 12-6-1 and 12-6-4. The heart
of plaintiffs' argument is that political parties should
not be forced to participate in a primary. This means that
plaintiffs are either: (1) challenging SDCL 12-5-21 and
arguing that the listed candidates who can gain ballot access
by being nominated by a party's state convention should
include all candidates or (2) challenging SDCL 12-6-1 and
12-6-4 and arguing that no candidates should have to
participate in a primary election. But plaintiffs'
amended complaint does not challenge the constitutionality of
SDCL 12-6-1, 12-6-4, ...