United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, et al.
New Hampshire Secretary of State, et al. NH Democratic Party
New Hampshire Secretary of State, et al.
N. Leplante United States District Judge.
Hampshire Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters of
New Hampshire, along with certain individual plaintiffs,
brought separate actions in Hillsborough County Superior
Court, challenging the constitutionality of the
recently-enacted Senate Bill 3 ("SB 3").
Plaintiffs' original complaints, filed in that court,
brought claims under both the New Hampshire and United States
Constitutions. Defendants removed both actions, citing this
court's subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (federal question). See 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
amended both complaints to disavow any claims under the
United States Constitution, electing to challenge SB 3 only
under the New Hampshire Constitution,  and now move to
remand both actions. The court grants both motions.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute . . .
." United States v. Coloian, 480 F.3d 47, 50
(1st Cir. 2007) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). "When
federal claims are dismissed before trial, state claims are
normally dismissed as well." Mclnnis-Misenor v.
Maine Med. Ctr., 319 F.3d 63, 74 (1st Cir. 2003). It is
true, as defendants argue, that "[a]n amendment to a
complaint after removal designed to eliminate the federal
claim will not defeat federal jurisdiction." Ching
v. Mitre Corp., 921 F.2d 11, 13 (1st Cir.
1990). Because the court retains supplemental jurisdiction
over the state claims, see 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a), it remains "discretionary with the district
court whether to remand the state claims, "
Ching, 921 F.2d at 13.
district courts may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over" such a state-law claim if:
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law;
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it
has original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling
reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Most, if not all, of these factors
point toward declining supplemental jurisdiction here. In the
case cited by the defendants as listing such factors,
Camelio v. Am. Fed'n, 137 F.3d 666, 672 (1st
Cir. 1998), Judge Barbadoro, sitting by designation on the
Court of Appeals, wrote that "the balance of competing
factors ordinarily will weigh strongly in favor of declining
jurisdiction over state law claims where the foundational
federal claims have been dismissed at an early stage in the
litigation[, ]" as is certainly the case here.
importantly, the plaintiffs have withdrawn the claims over
which this court had original jurisdiction. See 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); see also supra n. 1. Under
such circumstances, "the balance of factors to be
considered . . . will point toward declining to exercise
jurisdiction over state-law claims." Rodriguez v.
Doral Mortg. Corp., 57 F.3d 1168, 1177 (1st Cir. 1995).
The remaining claims also raise novel issues of law under the
New Hampshire Constitution, which this court, in its
discretion, deems better resolved by the state courts.
See 28 U.S.C. § 13 67(c)(1); Desjardins v.
Willard, 777 F.3d 43, 46 (1st Cir. 2015)
("[N]eedless decisions of state law should be avoided
both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the
parties, by procuring for them a surer-footed reading of
applicable law. This is particularly true of
interpretations of state constitutions." (citations
and quotations omitted) (emphasis added)) .
the defendants never argue here that federal jurisdiction
lies over the New Hampshire constitutional claims pleaded in
the Amended Complaint, arguing only that "it is not
clear that federal question jurisdiction no longer remains in
this case." In support of that less-than-forceful
contention, they point to what they characterize as a federal
question: "whether the New Hampshire Supreme Court's
decision to apply a bright-line intermediate scrutiny test in
State v. Guare, 167 N.H. 658, 665 (2015), is
preempted under the United States Supreme Court's
decisions . . . requir[ing] courts to test the burden of
restriction against the strength of the State's interest
in the restriction in a nuanced, case-by-case
basis."They argue that this court may, on the
basis of this question, retain jurisdiction over these
actions under Grable & Sons Metal Prod., Inc. v.
Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314 (2005).
aside the dubious claim that federal law could ever
"preempt" the standard under which a New Hampshire
Court properly scrutinizes a New Hampshire statute under the
New Hampshire Constitution,  Grable does not appear
to require, or even suggest, retaining this case. In
Grable, the plaintiff's state-law-based
quiet-title action required interpretation of federal tax
statutes to resolve an element of his claim. See Id.
at 315. Thus, the Supreme Court answered in the affirmative
the relevant question: whether "a state-law claim
necessarily raise[s] a stated federal issue, actually
disputed and substantial, which a federal forum may entertain
without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of
federal and state judicial responsibilities."
Id. at 314.
answer to that question is necessarily different here, where
the elements of the plaintiffs' claims implicate only New
Hampshire law. Even if a defense raised a federal law
question, that question would not independently confer
subject-matter jurisdiction on this court. See Beneficial
Nat. Bank v. Anderson,539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003) ("As a
general rule, absent diversity jurisdiction, a case will not
be removable if the complaint does not affirmatively allege a
federal claim, " even if a defense relies on federal
law). Nor does it appear to this court that the
"congressionally approved balance of federal and state
judicial responsibilities, " Grable, 545 U.S.
at 314, would favor this ...