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Arizona Libertarians Win Lawsuit Over Who Can Vote in Party Primary

Published on September 28, 2007, by in General.

On September 27, a U.S. District Court in Arizona ruled in favor of the Libertarian Party, in a case that the party had filed in 2002. Arizona Libertarian Party v Brewer, 02-144-TUC. A link to the opinion is here. The decision says that if a party doesn’t want independents to vote in its primary, it is free to exclude them. In the case of the Arizona Libertarian Party, the party members are massively outnumbered by registered independents, approximately 18,000 to 600,000. The court cited the party’s 2002 primary in the First District for the U.S. House. A non-Libertarian who advocated nationalized health care entered the party’s primary. Party leaders then recruited a candidate who actually supports the party platform. Although the candidate who supported the party platform won the primary 286-243 over the candidate who didn’t support the party platform, the judge ruled that letting independents vote in the party’s primary could easily have tilted the outcome. The decision also notes that a U.S. District Court in Virginia had ruled that Republicans in that state have a constitutional right to exclude non-members. The decision did not mention the more recent similar decision from Mississippi on behalf of Mississippi Democrats.

2 Responses

  1. This always seemed like a no-brainer to me. In its 1986 Tashjian ruling, the U. S. Supreme Court gave parties the right to invite independents to vote in their primaries. But the state cannot force parties to invite independents– it’s up to each party.

    In the Arizona case, the district court’s first ruling was appealed, and the circuit court sent the case back down to the district court.

    The Arizona parties also choose some of their party officials in their primaries.

  2. sam kelly

    Let the “D” and “R” groups conduct these elections and pay for them from other than public funds.

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