Dueling injunctions/rulings

There’s a series of cases in Louisiana at the moment (I know, Louisiana is not the state from which to draw examples, but there it is) in which opponents of a proposed state constitutional amendment, up for consideration September 18, are seeking to have it removed from the ballot. In one suit, the judge has ruled that the ballot measure may be on the ballot. In one or two others, different judges have ordered it stricken.

In a situation like this, assuming that no appelate court weighs in, which ruling holds? Answers specific to Louisiana law and general answers applicable to other jurisdictions are both most welcome.


Haven’t heard about this one. Are these are trial-level courts, in dfferent parishes?

You can’t make that assumption – one of the principal functions of appeals courts is to resolve conflicts in decisions like this.

One of the most certain ways to get SCOTUS to hear a case is to get a court in one Federal circuit to rule oppositely to what another circuit court has ruled – SCOTUS is honorbound to resolve the conflict in rulings.

Beyond that general assertion, I can’t say much about Louisiana law.

I understand that one role of the appeals court is to resolve disputes between lower courts who come to opposite conclusions. In this specific instance, there are two (so far) state district courts who have ruled on the issue of the ballot initiative. One has ruled it may be placed on the ballot and another has ruled it can’t be, both ruling on the same grounds as near as I can tell. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments in the case 8/23 but my question is what would happen if that court failed to rule in time for ballots to be printed and distributed for the September 18 election.

I’m guessing, but I suspect that each of these court cases takes the form of a plaintiff asking the court to grant an injunction restraining the Secretary of State (or whowever) from placing a particular proposal on the ballot paper. The court either grants that injunction or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, the court may issue an opinion saying why it is refusing to grant the injunction sought, but I doubt very much if it also makes an order directing the Secretary of State to include the proposal on the ballot paper. Nobody before the court would normally be looking for such an order.

The upshot of all this is that we have three cases in which a injunction was sought. In two cases the injunction was granted, but in the other I suspect that no order was made. So both the orders granted are to the same effect and the Secretary of State will (presumably) obey them, unless he can get them reversed or overturned on appeal. The opinion that the court gave in the case where the order was not granted may or may not be relevant to the grounds on which the orders were granted, and the Secretary of State may rely on it in his appeals against the orders granted. But it is probably just an opinion, not an order, and the Secretary of State can’t rely on it to ignore the orders which have been granted.