On January 9, briefs were filed simultaneously by both sides in MEA-MFT v State of Montana, 13-789. This is the case now in the Montana Supreme Court on whether the November 2014 ballot should contain a ballot measure imposing a top-two open primary. Here is the 41-page brief of the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs, who oppose the ballot measure and hope to remove it from the ballot, argue that the measure violates a law that says the “Title” of a ballot measure (i.e., the language that appears on the ballot) can’t be longer than 100 words. The plaintiffs also argue that the measure violates the single-subject rule. Finally, they argue that the measure, as described by the Attorney General for the voters pamphlet, is misleading.
The state had to file its brief before it had read the other side’s brief, so that the state’s brief does not comprehensively respond to all of the other side’s arguments. For example, the reason the measure is more than 100 words is that the state believes that the Title must mention all the code sections altered by the measure. Counting each election law code section as a separate word puts the word count at 196 words. The states argues it isn’t reasonable to count numbers in the word count. But the plaintiffs, in addition to arguing that numbers do count as words, also argues that the state didn’t need to put all the code sections into the title. Because the state hadn’t seen that argument yet, of course it didn’t respond to that argument. The state’s brief mentions that the Supreme Court might want to let the state file a supplemental brief. Thanks to Mike Fellows for the link.