Supreme Court To Consider Hearing Bipartisan Lawsuits Challenging Open Primaries
by Alex Gauthier, Independent Voter Network, Feb 7, 2017 (excerpt)
Legal efforts to shut out voters from publicly-funded primary elections in Hawaii and Montana may be heard by the Supreme Court next week.
The lawsuits challenging open primaries were brought by Republicans and Democrats alike. On February 17, the court will decide whether to reconsider the findings of lower courts in the cases of Ravalli County Republican Party v McCulloch and Democratic Party of Hawaii v Nago.
Previous decisions have upheld Montana and Hawaii’s open primaries as constitutional. However, the major parties remain undeterred and aim to take their case to the nation’s highest court….
In both suits, the plaintiffs’ arguments relied on precedent that recognized the political parties’ First Amendment right to not associate with voters who are not members of their party. This precedent was established in 2000 in the case of Democratic Party v Jones, which concerned California’s old blanket primary system where all party primaries were listed on the same ballot and voters could choose to participate in different party primaries for each office on the ballot. Now, the political parties are trying to extend that holding to all open primaries.
Advocates of inclusive primaries argue that the primary election is an integral part of the publicly-funded election process, and as such, no part of that public process should exclude any voters. Another argument can be made that forcing any voter to join a political party as a condition of participating at any stage of the public election process is also unconstitutional….
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BA: Hawaii Government Asks U.S. Supreme Court Not to Hear Democratic Party Case on Open Primary