Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Re: Dotty Dlott

Back in March, I passed along the news of federal district judge Susan Dlott’s order to Ohio’s secretary of state to keep polls open an extra hour in four counties. What was extraordinary about Dlott’s order was that she issued it in response to phone calls that the clerk’s office received from unidentified individuals concerned that a serious accident on a bridge would prevent stranded motorists from voting. As the local paper noted, her action “came without a written complaint, a court hearing or a formal presentation of evidence that might show federal election laws were about to be violated.”

In a brief opinion yesterday, a Sixth Circuit panel majority ruled that Dlott lacked jurisdiction because no plaintiff had standing. As Judge Jeffrey Sutton succinctly put it, “There is no plaintiff with standing if there is no plaintiff.”

(The third panel member would instead have vacated the district court’s order on mootness grounds.)

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