Christensen v. Gale

Nebraska Supreme Court Online Library 09/12/2018 08:09 AM CDT - 19 - Nebraska Supreme Court A dvance Sheets 301 Nebraska R eports CHRISTENSEN v. GALE Cite as 301 Neb. 19 M ark R. Christensen and Lydia Brasch, appellants, v. John Gale, Secretary of State of the State of Nebraska, et al., appellees. ___ N.W.2d ___ Filed September 12, 2018. No. S-18-825. 1. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a summary judgment, an appellate court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the judgment was granted, giv- ing that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences deducible from the evidence. 2. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation presents a ques- tion of law, for which an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court below. 3. Judgments: Jurisdiction. A jurisdictional question that does not involve a factual dispute is a matter of law. 4. Judges: Evidence: Appeal and Error. The exercise of judicial discre- tion is implicit in determining the relevance of evidence, and a trial court’s decision regarding relevance will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. 5. Constitutional Law: Initiative and Referendum. The power of initia- tive in article III, § 1, of the Nebraska Constitution is “[t]he first power reserved by the people” under article III, § 2. 6. ____: ____. The right of initiative is precious to the people and one which the courts are zealous to preserve to the fullest tenable measure of spirit as well as letter. 7. Initiative and Referendum: Statutes. Statutory provisions authorizing initiative petitions should be construed in such a manner that the legisla- tive power reserved in the people is effectual and should not be circum- scribed by restrictive legislation or narrow and strict interpretation of the statutes pertaining to its exercise. - 20 - Nebraska Supreme Court A dvance Sheets 301 Nebraska R eports CHRISTENSEN v. GALE Cite as 301 Neb. 19 8. Initiative and Referendum. The sworn statement provision of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1405(1) (Reissue 2016) is mandatory. 9. Initiative and Referendum: Statutes: Words and Phrases. “Sponsoring the petition” in the context of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1405(1) (Reissue 2016) means assuming responsibility for the initiative or referendum petition process. 10. Initiative and Referendum: Words and Phrases. Defining sponsors as those who assume responsibility for the petition process serves the dual purposes of informing the public of (1) who may be held respon- sible for the petition, exposing themselves to potential criminal charges if information is falsified, and (2) who stands ready to accept responsi- bility to facilitate the referendum’s inclusion on the ballot and defend the referendum process if challenged. 11. Initiative and Referendum: Statutes. The statutory scheme governing initiative and referendum petitions requires filings with the Secretary of State identifying the persons or entities taking legal responsibility for the petition process, while the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act focuses on identifying those persons or entities finan- ...

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