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Galassini v. Town of Fountain Hills

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 4, 2014

Dina Galassini, Plaintiff,
Town of Fountain Hills, et al., Defendants.


JAMES A. TEILBORG, Senior District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Intervenor-Defendant State of Arizona's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (Doc. 147). The Court now rules on the motion.

I. Background

The Court has previously recounted the facts of this case in detail, see (Doc. 106 at 1-17), and will state only those essential to the pending motion. This case arises from Plaintiff's opposition to a bond proposal on the November 2011 ballot of Town of Fountain Hills, Arizona ("Fountain Hills"). (Doc. 106 at 2). Plaintiff sent an e-mail to friends and neighbors in an attempt to organize a rally opposing the bond proposal. ( Id. ) After this e-mail was forwarded to Fountain Hills' officials, the Town Clerk sent a letter to Plaintiff stating that Plaintiff's planned rally would violate the state campaign-finance laws. ( Id. at 5-7). In response, Plaintiff cancelled her rally. ( Id. at 7).

Plaintiff initially filed a complaint against Fountain Hills, the Town Clerk of Fountain Hills, and the Town Attorney of Fountain Hills for violations of her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.[1] (Doc. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Arizona's campaign finance laws were unconstitutional and Fountain Hills had enforced these laws against her in violation of her First Amendment rights. (Doc. 1 at 5-6, 17).

The next day, the State of Arizona (the "State") moved to intervene as a defendant "to defend the constitutionality of state law" under its "unconditional right to intervene" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2403. (Doc. 13 at 1-2). The Court granted the State's motion to intervene. (Doc. 18). Following a preliminary injunction hearing, the Court issued a preliminary injunction and Plaintiff held her protest rally prior to the bond proposal election. (Doc. 106 at 7-8).

Subsequent to the election and the expiration of the preliminary injunction, Plaintiff amended her complaint. (Doc. 65). Plaintiff claims in her amended complaint that Arizona's campaign finance laws are unconstitutional burdens on free speech, are overbroad, and impermissibly vague. (Doc. 65 at 18-22). Plaintiff asks in her amended complaint for a judgment declaring "that the registration, exemption, reporting, and disclosure requirements for political committees contained in [A.R.S.] § 16-901 et seq. are unconstitutional on their face and as applied to the Plaintiff and others similarly situated" as well as, inter alia, injunctive relief "against the Defendants prohibiting the enforcement of these regulations, laws, rules, and policies." ( Id. at 22-23).

Plaintiff also alleged in her amended complaint that she "wishes to associate with others to speak about ballot issues in the future" but the campaign-finance laws "will continue to make her[] avoid speaking out in a manner that would trigger" the laws. ( Id. at 18). Plaintiff later testified at her deposition that she wishes to be politically active with respect to future ballot issues, including associating with others and spending more than $250 as a group on political activities. (Doc. 82-4 at 15-16).

The State answered Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed responses to Plaintiff's motions, participated in discovery, and moved for summary judgment. The State, Fountain Hills, and Plaintiff each filed summary judgment motions. The State defended the constitutionality of the campaign finance laws and asked the Court to enter judgment in the State's favor. (Doc. 83). Fountain Hills did not opine on the constitutionality issue but argued that it could not be liable under Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) because it did not have a policy of enforcing statutes without regard to their constitutionality. (Doc. 84).

In its ruling on the motions for summary judgment, the Court held that the definition of "political committee" in A.R.S. § 16-901(19) was vague and overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. (Doc. 106 at 33, 41). The Court then considered but denied Fountain Hills' motion for summary judgment, finding a disputed issue of material fact existed as to whether Fountain Hills had a policy of applying state statutes regardless of their constitutionality. ( Id. at 47). Accordingly, the Court denied Fountain Hills' motion for summary judgment, denied the State's motion for summary judgment, and granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. ( Id. at 52-53). The Court's Order did not enter any final judgment on any claims, however.

The State asserted in the parties' proposed final pretrial order that no issues existed between it and Plaintiff for trial and "[t]he State's interest in this litigation is solely in the constitutionality of the statute, which the Court has already decided." (Doc. 134 at 2 n.1). Plaintiff and Fountain Hills then settled their claims, and the Court entered a consent judgment (the "Consent Judgment") in which the Court declared Arizona's campaign finance laws to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad as set forth in the Court's decision on the parties' summary judgment motions. (Doc. 138 at 3). The consent judgment also contained Fountain Hills' admission that its officials did not make an independent determination of the constitutionality of the campaign finance laws prior to contacting Plaintiff. ( Id. at 3-4). The consent judgment further provided that it was a final judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 54(b). ( Id. at 5).

The State now moves to dismiss this case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 147). Plaintiff asks the Court to enter declaratory and permanent injunctive relief against the State. (Doc. 148-1 at 30-32).

II. Legal Standard

Subject-matter jurisdiction "concerns the courts' statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate cases." Leeson v. Transamerica Disability Income Plan, 671 F.3d 969, 975 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 89 (1998)) (internal quotation marks and emphasis omitted). "If the court determines at any time that it ...

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