Reform Party of Florida v. Black, No. SC04-1755

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation885 So.2d 303
Decision Date17 September 2004
Docket Number No. SC04-1806., No. SC04-1755
PartiesThe REFORM PARTY OF FLORIDA, et al., Appellants, v. Harriet Jane BLACK, et al., Appellees. Glenda Hood, etc., Appellant, v. Harriet Jane Black, et al., Appellees.

885 So.2d 303

The REFORM PARTY OF FLORIDA, et al., Appellants,
v.
Harriet Jane BLACK, et al., Appellees.
Glenda Hood, etc., Appellant,
v.
Harriet Jane Black, et al., Appellees

Nos. SC04-1755, SC04-1806.

Supreme Court of Florida.

September 17, 2004.


Kenneth W. Sukhia of Fowler, White, Gillen, et al., Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo; George N. Meros, Jr. and Jonathan Paul Kilman of Gray Robinson, P.A., Tallahassee, FL, George L. Waas and Gerald B. Curington, Assistant Attorneys General, Tallahassee, FL, and Richard Antonio Perez, General Counsel, Department of State, Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of Honorable Glenda Hood; and D. Andrew Byrne, Jackson Maynard,

885 So.2d 304
Jr., and Darren A. Schwartz of Cooper, Byrne, Blue & Schwartz, Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of the Reform Party of Florida and the Reform Party of the United States of America, for Appellants

Edward S. Stafman, Tallahassee, FL, Kelly Overstreet Johnson, David K. Miller, M. Stephen Turner and Brooke E. Lewis of Broad and Cassel, Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of Harriett Jane Black, Robert Rackleff, William Chapman, and Terry Anderson; Laurence H. Tribe, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Stephen Frederick Rosenthal, Michael Scott Olin, and Maria Kayanan of Podhurst Orseck, P.A., Miami, Florida, Mark Herron and Thomas M. Findley of Messer, Caparello & Self, P.A., Tallahassee, FL, and Richard B. Rosenthal and Joel Stephen Perwin of Joel Perwin, P.A., Miami, FL, on behalf of Candice Wilson, Alan Herman, Scott Charles Maddox, and the Florida Democratic Party, for Appellees.

PER CURIAM.

We have for review a trial court judgment certified by the First District Court of Appeal to be of great public importance and to require immediate resolution by this Court. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(5), Fla. Const. For the reasons explained below, we reverse the trial court's final declaratory judgment and vacate the permanent injunction that ordered Reform Party candidates Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo off the 2004 Florida presidential ballot. In making our decision in this case we are guided by the overriding constitutional principles in favor of ballot access and our recognition of the plenary authority of the Legislature to direct the manner of selecting Florida's presidential electors.

Procedural History

Despite the short time frame since the genesis of this case, it has a convoluted procedural history. On August 31, 2004, the Reform Party State Executive Committee submitted papers to Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood seeking to qualify Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the Reform Party of the United States of America (Reform Party USA) on the Florida ballot for the general election scheduled for November 2, 2004, pursuant to section 103.021(4)(a), Florida Statutes (2003). Governor Jeb Bush certified the Reform Party slate of presidential electors to Secretary of State Glenda Hood, who in turn certified that the names of Nader and Camejo be placed on the 2004 Florida presidential ballot. On September 2, 2004, two separate complaints were filed in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit, seeking a reversal of the certification and removal of Nader and Camejo's names from the ballot. One group of plaintiffs included Candice Wilson and Alan Herman, both registered members of the Reform Party, Scott Maddox, a registered member of the Democratic Party and the Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, and the Florida Democratic Party. The second group of plaintiffs included Harriet Jane Black, a registered Republican from Pinellas County, Robert Rackleff, a registered Democrat from Leon County, William Chapman, a registered member of the Reform Party from Marion County, and Terry Anderson, a registered Independent from Miami-Dade County. Both complaints named Secretary of State Hood, the Reform Party of Florida, Ralph Nader, and Peter Camejo as defendants.1

885 So.2d 305
The complaints alleged that Nader and Camejo are not "minor party" candidates affiliated with a national party as provided in section 103.021(4)(a), but rather are independent candidates who use the name "Reform Party of Florida" to claim affiliation with the national Reform Party where no affiliation actually exists. The plaintiffs also filed an emergency motion for injunctive relief and a memorandum of law in support of a preliminary injunction

A status conference on the complaints was scheduled for September 7, 2004, but had to be postponed because of Hurricane Frances. When the plaintiffs received information that the Secretary of State intended to certify the Reform Party presidential slate for inclusion on the presidential ballot on Wednesday, September 8, they rescheduled the conference to include a hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction. The new hearing, which was held on the afternoon of September 8, became a seven-hour preliminary injunction hearing.

At this hearing, the circuit court received documentary and testimonial evidence and heard argument from the parties. After the hearing, the judge issued an order preliminarily enjoining the Secretary of State from certifying Nader and Camejo as candidates for the Florida 2004 presidential ballot and from certifying the electors offered by the Reform Party of Florida. The court concluded that preliminary injunctive relief was appropriate as the plaintiffs had satisfied the four-part test under Florida law: a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; lack of an adequate remedy at law; irreparable harm absent the entry of an injunction; and that injunctive relief will serve the public interest.2

The circuit court found that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, finding a "substantial likelihood" that the Reform Party failed to comply with the requirements of section 103.021(4)(a). The circuit court based its conclusion on a number of findings, including that the Reform Party USA is not a "national party," candidates Nader and Camejo were not nominated in a "national convention," and the Reform Party of Florida is not affiliated with the Reform Party USA. The circuit court cited an advisory opinion issued by the Federal Election Commission as providing guidance in its determination that the Reform Party USA is not a national party. The court considered the fact that the Reform Party USA does not broadly offer or support candidates for national office, apart from its presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The circuit court noted that, rather than being nominated in a "national convention," Nader and Camejo were endorsed by the party via a conference telephone call. Further, the conference call did not follow the Reform Party USA's own definition of a "national convention." Finally, the court found that the Reform Party of Florida does not appear to be a minor party affiliated with a national party as required by the statute. The court noted that an April 2002 letter from the Chairman of the Reform Party of Florida shows that the Florida sector disaffiliated from the national party. Based on these findings, the circuit court concluded that the Reform Party of Florida would be unlikely to meet the requirements of the statute.

885 So.2d 306
As to the other grounds for ordering injunctive relief, the court found that there is no adequate remedy at law because neither party's damages can be reduced to a monetary amount and the potential public harm in failing to follow the applicable legal requirements cannot be dissipated by ordinary judicial remedies. The court further found that the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm without the injunction. Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles testified that the inclusion of an erroneous candidate for president on the ballot would be disastrous. Finally, the court found that the injunctive relief would serve the public interest because Florida has important interests in enforcing its election laws, ensuring that only qualified candidates appear on its ballot, protecting the integrity of the ballot and election process, and preventing voter confusion during the election

Thus, the circuit court preliminarily enjoined Secretary Hood from certifying Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as candidates on the 2004 Florida presidential election ballot and from certifying the electors offered by the Reform Party of Florida. As the court pointed out in its order, "time is of the essence in this dispute" in that county election supervisors are required by law to mail certain absentee ballots no later than Saturday, September 18, 2004, forty-five days prior to election day. See § 101.62(4)(a), Fla. Stat. (2003) (providing that the supervisor of elections shall mail an "advance absentee ballot" to overseas voters requesting an absentee ballot "[n]ot fewer than 45 days before the ... general election").

The Reform Party of Florida, Nader, and Camejo appealed the non-final preliminary injunction to the First District Court of Appeal. They also sought a stay pending review. The district court did not rule on the stay and concluded that the case required immediate resolution by this Court, pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.125. See Reform Party of Fla. v. Black, No. 1D04-4050 (Fla. 1st DCA Sept. 13, 2004). In the meantime, Secretary Hood filed a notice of appeal on September 13, thereby invoking the automatic stay provision for public bodies and public officers under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.310(b)(2).3 This automatically stayed the circuit court's temporary injunction prohibiting the Secretary of State from certifying the names of Nader and Camejo for inclusion on the 2004 Florida presidential ballot. Simultaneously, Secretary Hood directed the supervisors of elections to include the names of Nader and Camejo on the ballot. The plaintiffs filed a motion asking the circuit court to vacate the automatic stay; they filed a...

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19 practice notes
  • Kasischke v. State, No. SC07-128.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 10 July 2008
    ...598, 600-01 (Fla.2006); Am. Home Assurance Co. v. Plaza Materials Corp., 908 So.2d 360, 368-69 (Fla.2005); Reform Party of Fla. v. Black, 885 So.2d 303, 309 n. 4 (Fla.2004); N. Fla. Women's Health & Counseling Servs., Inc. v. State, 866 So.2d 612, 622-24 (Fla.2003); In re Amendments to the ......
  • Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State, No. SC16–381
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 16 February 2017
    ...harm absent the entry of an injunction; and that injunctive relief will serve the public interest." Reform Party of Fla. v. Black , 885 So.2d 303, 305 (Fla. 2004). "The standard of review of trial court orders on requests for temporary injunctions is a hybrid. To the extent the trial court'......
  • Fla. Dep't of Health v. Florigrown, LLC, SC19-1464
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 27 May 2021
    ...Mgmt. Corp. v. City of Treasure Island , 796 So. 2d 481, 485 (Fla. 2001) (extraordinary relief); Reform Party of Fla. v. Black , 885 So. 2d 303, 305 (Fla. 2004) (elements of a claim for a temporary injunction). We review a trial court's factual findings on these elements for competent, subs......
  • Barco v. School Bd. of Pinellas County, No. SC07-261.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 7 February 2008
    ...in the rule. It is appropriate to refer to dictionary definitions when construing statutes or rules. See Reform Party of Fla. v. Black, 885 So.2d 303, 312 (Fla.2004) (citing Nehme v. Smithkline Beecham Clinical Labs., Inc., 863 So.2d 201, 204-05 (Fla. 2003)). Indeed, this is what the Fourth......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Kasischke v. State, No. SC07-128.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 10 July 2008
    ...598, 600-01 (Fla.2006); Am. Home Assurance Co. v. Plaza Materials Corp., 908 So.2d 360, 368-69 (Fla.2005); Reform Party of Fla. v. Black, 885 So.2d 303, 309 n. 4 (Fla.2004); N. Fla. Women's Health & Counseling Servs., Inc. v. State, 866 So.2d 612, 622-24 (Fla.2003); In re Amendments to the ......
  • Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State, No. SC16–381
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 16 February 2017
    ...harm absent the entry of an injunction; and that injunctive relief will serve the public interest." Reform Party of Fla. v. Black , 885 So.2d 303, 305 (Fla. 2004). "The standard of review of trial court orders on requests for temporary injunctions is a hybrid. To the extent the trial court'......
  • Fla. Dep't of Health v. Florigrown, LLC, SC19-1464
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 27 May 2021
    ...Mgmt. Corp. v. City of Treasure Island , 796 So. 2d 481, 485 (Fla. 2001) (extraordinary relief); Reform Party of Fla. v. Black , 885 So. 2d 303, 305 (Fla. 2004) (elements of a claim for a temporary injunction). We review a trial court's factual findings on these elements for competent, subs......
  • Barco v. School Bd. of Pinellas County, No. SC07-261.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 7 February 2008
    ...in the rule. It is appropriate to refer to dictionary definitions when construing statutes or rules. See Reform Party of Fla. v. Black, 885 So.2d 303, 312 (Fla.2004) (citing Nehme v. Smithkline Beecham Clinical Labs., Inc., 863 So.2d 201, 204-05 (Fla. 2003)). Indeed, this is what the Fourth......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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