For Immediate Release
May 27, 2021
Contact: Tim Jacob
Term Limits Supporters Go to Federal Court
Sue to Overturn New Arkansas Petition Law
Call Out Legislature for Unconstitutional Attempt to Block Citizen Initiatives
Little Rock, AR — Today, Arkansas Term Limits, along with two national pro-term limits groups, filed suit in the federal Eastern District of Arkansas to overturn newly passed restrictions on the state’s petition process.
“Legislators have enacted unconstitutional hurdles to block our petition for stricter term limits, something voters strongly favor but politicians oppose,” said Tim Jacob of Little Rock, chairman of Arkansas Term Limits. “By challenging the legislature’s attack on our right to petition, we begin the process of restoring both term limits and this state’s cherished citizen initiative process.”
At issue is Act 951, passed last month by legislators as Senate Bill 614, an “emergency” measure, which is now law — though, without Governor Hutchinson’s signature. The Act bans people found guilty of minor misdemeanors at any time in their lives, even many decades ago, from working as paid petitioners in Arkansas. The new law also limits the pool of petitioners to only state residents, something not done for any other political job, nor for those carrying Arkansas’s candidate petitions. In recent years, similar residency laws have been struck down in unanimous rulings of the 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Earlier this year, a federal judge enjoined enforcement of a similar law in Maine.
“This lawsuit is necessary to prevent legislation . . . passed by a runaway and vindictive state legislature intent on preventing the citizens of Arkansas from exercising their right to bypass the power of unresponsive legislators,” the complaint reads. “Many of the statutory provisions challenged in this action run brazenly afoul of clearly established precedent of the United States Supreme Court.”
The lawsuit names John Thurston, in his official capacity as the Secretary of State for the State of Arkansas, as the defendant. Plaintiffs include Tim Jacob, individually; Arkansas Term Limits; Liberty Initiative Fund, led by Jacob’s brother, Paul; U.S. Term Limits; Lawrence “Skip” Cook, a longtime term limits activist; Trent Pool, a Texas resident who wishes to work petitioning in Arkansas; and Accelevate 2020, Pool’s petition management firm.
“For the last decade, the legislature has repeatedly legislated to give themselves a career in office and to block citizens from having an honest vote on term limits,” Tim Jacob offered. “It is hardly surprising that, during this same period, we’ve seen corruption rear its ugly head again in the legislature.”
“The citizens of Arkansas expect their voices to be heard and their constitution honored,” noted Skip Cook of Maumelle, who managed the original 1992 term limits campaign. “The Arkansas legislature has been working overtime to prevent both.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Tim Jacob at (501) 529-5075.
U.S. Term Limits is the oldest and largest grassroots term limits advocacy group in the country. We connect term limits supporters with their legislators and work to pass term limits on all elected officials, particularly on the U.S. Congress. Find out more at termlimits.com.