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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, March 11, 2006

This Dixie Two-Step May Affect 22 States

[The Clarion-Ledger ran this letter on March 10, 2006. It's a commentary on that paper's article of March 1, "Miss. Dems want change in primaries," and editorial of March 5, "Primaries: Voting, voters should be the issue."]

Under the U. S. Supreme Court's reasoning in a 2000 California case, the Mississippi Democrats' lawsuit has an excellent chance of success. When the justices were considering the 2000 case, columnist George Will urged them to go ahead and strike down the primary election system used by 22 states, including Mississippi.

A similar lawsuit was filed last year in Virginia and has already reached the federal appeals court there. Ironically, that suit was brought by a local unit of the state Republican Party.

These cases involve the freedom of association, which is part of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The question is whether a state may force a political party to allow non-members to participate in its nominating process.

You noted that this suit may bring about voter registration by party. Another possibility is the Democrats excluding from their primary anyone who has voted in a Republican primary within a certain period of time.

Regardless of the outcome, the Republicans will still have the right to invite any and all voters to participate in their primary.

You also mentioned the system in which all candidates run in the same election. While the big majority of U. S. cities use that system for municipal elections, only Louisiana uses it for state and congressional elections.

Personally, I would prefer that we keep the present setup. But the reality is that that's very unlikely to happen. It will, however, be fascinating to watch this case as it progresses and to hear what the federal courts have to say about it.


Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I voted for Howard Dean in the Democrat (sic) primaries in `04; St. Louis is overwhelmingly Democrat, and I would have wasted my vote if I had done otherwise. The Dems pulled this trick with John McCain in 2000-why shouldn`t I sabotage them with Dean?

I would LOVE to see who the Democrats would send up in a closed primary system!

Sun Mar 12, 05:39:00 PM CST  
Blogger Smitty said...

Found more discussion, including extensive comments of your own, here and here at MississippiPolitics.com.

Wed Mar 15, 10:41:00 AM CST  

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