(redirected from petitioning)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


A written application from a person or persons to some governing body or public official asking that some authority be exercised to grant relief, favors, or privileges.

A formal application made to a court in writing that requests action on a certain matter.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees to the people the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. Petitions are also used to collect signatures to enable a candidate to get on a ballot or put an issue before the electorate. Petitions can serve as a way of pressuring elected officials to adhere to the position expressed by the petitioners.

The right to petition the government for correction of public grievances derives from the English Magna Charta of 1215 and the English Bill of Rights of 1689. One of the colonists' objections to British rule before the American Revolution was the king's refusal to act on their petitions of redress. The Founders attempted to address this concern with the First Amendment, which affirms the right of the people to petition their government. Almost all states adopted similar guarantees of petition in their own constitutions.

Between 1836 and 1840, abolitionists collected the signatures of two million people on petitions against Slavery and sent them to the U.S. House of Representatives. In the early twentieth century, states passed laws allowing initiative (the proposing of legislation by the people) and recall (an election to decide whether an elected official should be removed from office). Both processes start with the collection of a minimum number of signatures on a petition. Small political parties often use petitions to collect signatures to enable their candidates to be placed on the election ballot.

Petitions are also directed to courts of law and administrative agencies and boards. A petition may be made ex parte (without the presence of the opposing party) where there are no parties in opposition. For example, the executor of an estate may file a petition with the probate court requesting approval to sell property that belongs to the estate or trust.

In contested matters, however, the opposing party must be served with the petition and be given the opportunity to appear in court to argue the merits of the issues it contains. A prisoner may file a petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus, in which the prisoner requests a hearing to determine whether he or she is entitled to be released from custody because of unconstitutional or illegal actions by the government. The prisoner must serve the government office that prosecuted him or her with a copy of the petition. The writ of habeas corpus, like many other types of writs, is discretionary; the court is free to deny the petition.


1) n. a formal written request to a court for an order of the court. It is distinguished from a complaint in a lawsuit which asks for damages and/or performance by the opposing party. Petitions include demands for writs, orders to show cause, modifications of prior orders, continuances, dismissal of a case, reduction of bail in criminal cases, a decree of distribution of an estate, appointment of a guardian, and a host of other matters arising in legal actions. 2) a general term for a writing signed by a number of people asking for a particular result from a private governing body (such as a homeowners association, a political party, or a club). 3) in public law a petition may be required to place a proposition or ordinance on the ballot, nominate a person for public office, or demand a recall election. Such petitions for official action must be signed by a specified number of registered voters (such as five percent). 4) v. making a formal request of a court, presenting a written request to an organization's governing body signed by one or more members. 5) in some states a suit for divorce is entitled a petition, and the parties are called petitioner and respondent. (See: motion, writ, divorce, petitioner)


noun adjuration, application, bid, call for aid, demand, earnest request, entreaty, formal writing emmodying a request, formal written plea, formal written reeuest, invocation, libellus, motion, plea, prayer, request, reeuest for relief, requisition, solemn request, written application for relief
Associated concepts: affidavit, ex parte petiiion, filing of petition, order dismissing a petition, petition for a name change, petition for divorce, verified petition, voluntary petition in bankruptcy


verb adjure, advocate, appeal for, apply for, apply to, ask for, beseech, bid, call upon, clamor for, entreat earnestly, file for, formally urge, implorare, implore, make a requisition, make application, make deeands, make written application, obtest, plead, pray for, prefer a request to, request, requisition, rogare, seek, solemnly request, solicit, urge
Associated concepts: petition for a rehearing, petition for a writ of certiorari, petition for a writ of mandamus, petition for a writ of prohibition, petition for redress, petition for reeoval, petition for review
See also: appeal, application, apply, bill, call, canvass, claim, complaint, cross-examine, demand, entreaty, implore, importune, invitation, motion, move, plead, pray, prayer, press, request, requisition, solicit, sue, suit


a formal application in writing made to a court asking for some specific judicial action. In Scotland there is a technical distinction between a petition and a summons.

PETITION. An instrument of writing or printing containing a prayer from the person presenting it, called the petitioner, to the body or person to whom it is presented, for the redress of some wrong, or the grant of some favor, which the latter has the right to give.
     2. By the constitution of the United States the right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances," is secured to the people. Amend. Art. 1.
     3. Petitions are frequently presented to the courts in order to bring some matters before them. It is a general rule, in such cases, that an affidavit should be made that the facts therein contained are true as far as known to the petitioner, and that those facts which he states as knowing from others be believes to be true.

References in periodicals archive ?
The court initially ruled that Blixseth had at least 12 creditors and, therefore, a minimum of three petitioning creditors with unsecured claims totaling at least $14,425, not subject to a bona fide dispute as to liability or amount, had to join the involuntary petition.
The court refused to read a materiality provision into section 303(b)(1) as that would allow a creditor to participate in an involuntary petition where the debtor disputed a portion of the creditor's claim--regardless of the amount--notwithstanding section 303(b)(1) s requirement that none of the petitioning creditor's claims can be subject to a bona fide dispute as to amount.
But as the history of suffrage petitioning shows us, focusing on the lack of immediate results misses the point of petitioning.
The suffrage movement also suggests that petitioning is most effective when it is embedded within, rather than divorced from, other forms of political activity, such as such as public meetings, demonstrations, or elections.
Once the petitioning creditors satisfy all of the requirements in Bankruptcy Code [section] 303, the bankruptcy court will grant relief on an involuntary bankruptcy petition and enter an order for relief.
Upon dismissal of an involuntary petition, Bankruptcy Code [section] 303(i)(l) permits the court to grant judgment against the petitioning creditors and in favor of the debtor for the debtor's costs and/or reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in fighting the involuntary petition unless (i) all of the petitioning creditors and the debtor consent to the dismissal, and (ii) the debtor has not waived its right to obtain a judgment under Bankruptcy Code [section] 303.
Tabled in Parliament on February 13, 2013 by New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, Motion 428 proposes to modernize and improve Canada's antiquated petitioning system.
Motion 428 also proposes the petitioning process be further reformed to enhance the role and impact of petitions in Parliament.
Now the existence of disputes concerning either liability or the amount of a petitioning creditor's claim may give rise to a bona fide dispute that would disqualify the petitioning creditor and risk dismissal of the involuntary petition.
Before I conclude, allow me to bring up certain other points that concern the petitioning of the National Assembly.
Petitioning creditors seeking relief on an involuntary bankruptcy petition have to prove, among other things, that their claims are not subject to bona fide dispute as to liability or amount.
There are a number of criteria that petitioning creditors must meet for a valid involuntary bankruptcy filing: The petitioning creditors' unsecured claims total $10,000; the petitioning creditor's claim may not be subject to a bona fide dispute nor contingent; the debtor is generally failing to pay its non-disputed debts as they come due; and, if the debtor has 12 or more creditors, at least three creditors must join in the petition.