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McKay v. City of Warwick

United States District Court, District of Rhode Island

March 31, 2014

Raymond McKay
v.
City of Warwick,

I. INTRODUCTION

The issue in this case is whether the City of Warwick’s ordinance prohibiting classified employees from running for political office violates the United States Constitution’s First Amendment or Equal Protection Clause, or whether it is preempted by federal law.

These types of ordinances enacted by state and local governments have been referred to as “Little Hatch Acts” or “Baby Hatch Acts, ” after similar prohibitions on federal employees’ involvement in political activities called the Hatch Act.[1]

The U.S. Supreme Court has explained that:

A major thesis of the Hatch Act is that to serve this great end of Government— the impartial execution of the laws—it is essential that federal employees, for example, not take formal positions in political parties, not undertake to play substantial roles in partisan political campaigns, and not run for office on partisan political tickets. Forbidding activities like these will reduce the hazards to fair and effective government.[2]

This case is presently before this Court on Plaintiff Raymond McKay’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. He seeks an order prohibiting the Defendant City of Warwick from enforcing an ordinance against him in connection with his potential candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The City of Warwick opposes his motion.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction, this Court weighs four factors:

(1) the likelihood of success on the merits;
(2) the potential for irreparable harm [to Mr. McKay] if the injunction is denied;
(3) the balance of relevant impositions, i.e., the hardship to the [City if it is] enjoined as contrasted with the hardship to [Mr. McKay] if no injunction issues; and
(4) the effect (if any) of the court’s ruling on the public interest.[3]

The first factor, “likelihood of success on the merits, ” is the “critical” factor that ...


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