Current Cases

Hill v. Williams (2016)

Owen Hill is a Republican state senator from Colorado Springs who votes in-person on election day and would like to post a photograph of his marked ballot on his Facebook page. Scott Romano and Colin Phipps are Democrats who turned 18 shortly before the 2016 election, who vote using Colorado’s mail-in voting, and also would like to take and post “ballot selfies.”

The potential penalties for these acts in Colorado are up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The second of Pillar’s ballot selfie cases, Hill v. Williams challenges a Colorado law that prohibits one from displaying one’s own marked ballot. Since voting in Colorado largely occurs by mail, the reach of this censorship is statewide. An expansive lawsuit against the Colorado Secretary of State, Colorado Attorney General, and the Denver District Attorney, Pillar joined a team of outstanding attorneys in Colorado to bring this case, winning relief for election day 2016 and pursuing a permanent ruling for future elections.

 

Crookston v. Johnson (2016)

With the rise of social media, ballot photography is becoming more popular in each election. Known as “ballot selfies,” many voters enjoy photographing their own marked ballots and posting them on social networks such as Facebook. One voter in Michigan, Joel Crookston, did this in the 2012 election.

He didn’t know it could cost him his vote and bring misdemeanor charges, with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine.

Pillar brought this lawsuit on behalf of Crookston against the Michigan Secretary of State, aiming to overturn the laws in question to allow for ballot selfies—an exciting, emerging form of political speech. The lawsuit also challenges the Secretary’s general photography ban in polling places, arguing that by treating “credentialed media” differently from voters the law violates free speech and equal protection under the Constitution.

United States District Court – Western District of Michigan:

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit:

 

Ball v. Madigan (2015)

When Illinois enacted a medical marijuana pilot program in 2014, the law prohibited cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries from making political contributions to candidates for state office, even though most corporations can contribute up to $10,800 per candidate.

New political candidates need to be able to fundraise to have effective campaigns, but Illinois ensures that one set of new voices is denied that right. Under the First Amendment, limiting some from meaningful political participation cannot stand.

This lawsuit is brought on behalf of Claire Ball, a Libertarian candidate who is running for the office of comptroller in the 2016 election and Scott Schluter, a Libertarian candidate who is running for state representative.

 

Two Unnamed Plaintiffs v. Federal Election Commission (2016)

Federal election law prohibits delegates to political party conventions from accepting books, travel stipends, and legal assistance from non-profit corporations, but allows delegates to accept unlimited contributions from individuals.

This asymmetrical scheme has proven especially chilling in the 2016 election cycle, as one presidential candidate has a history of threatening and litigating frivolous lawsuits against those who stand up to him. Pillar sued the Federal Election Commission to have this law struck down.

Pillar is joined in the lawsuit by two unnamed Republican delegates who would like to speak out on the issue of delegate autonomy at the convention and receive assistance against any legal threats that they might face.

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