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Florida Libertarian Party Will Challenge 2011 Law That Restricts Whom a Party May Nominate

In 2011, the Florida legislature made it illegal for anyone to seek the nomination of a qualified party if the candidate had been a member of another party in the preceding year. The Florida Libertarian Party has decided to challenge this law.

The basis for this challenge will be the U.S. Supreme Court decision Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut. In that 1986 case, the U.S. Supreme Court said that it would violate Freedom of Association for a state government to tell a party that it can’t nominate a non-member. Since then, the Colorado Democratic Party, and the New Mexico Green and Libertarian Parties, have won lawsuits against laws that are similar to the Florida law. Thanks to Bill Wohlsifer for this news.

8 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    Did ‘Tashjian’ say that? ‘Tashjian’ specifically differentiated itself from ‘Storer v Brown’, which placed restrictions on party candidates.

    The fundamental problem is that the state is attempting to regulate political association.

    Do you have the right to politically associate with any candidate by giving verbal or visual support (buttons, yard signs, bumper stickers), monetary support, or voting for them?

    Do you have the right to associate with other individuals in mutually supporting a candidate, or encouraging or recruiting candidates.

    Do you have the right to politically associate with different sets of individuals at the same time?

    How other than open elections in which any voter may support and vote for any candidate can these principles be preserved?

  2. Tashjian says “Were the State to provide that only Party members might be selected as the Party’s chosen nominees for public office, such a prohibition of potential association with nonmember would clearly infringe upon the rights of the Party’s members under the First Amendment…”

  3. Demo Rep

    Again –
    ALL or SOME of the PUBLIC electors are nominating folks for PUBLIC offices — via primaries (top 2, open, closed, whatever), caucuses, conventions — according to PUBLIC laws.

    The assembly stuff in the 1st Amdt had ZERO to do with any such nomination / ballot access stuff.

    i.e. too many MORON SCOTUS opinions to count – the WHOLE giant mess of cases since 1968 must be over-ruled.

  4. Jim Riley

    Why do you think it is constitutional for the Libertarian Party to be able to support a particular individual, that you as an Libertarian registrant could not, unless the party bosses permitted you to.

    Under the Top 2 Open Primary, the Libertarian Party (party bosses) is free to support whomever it wishes. AND an individual voter is also free to support whomever they want to.

    Why does the state have the authority to condition your right to political association to mediation through political parties?

    If Florida were to adopt the Top 2 Open Primary, the Libertarian Party (bosses) could say Charlie Crist was our candidate, and provide support, while individuals could choose not to engage in that political association.

    • June Genis

      @Jim Riley Why do you believe that it is the party bosses as opposed to party members that are selecting the candidate, regardless of that person’s previous affiliation? Membership in the Libertarian Party is open to anyone who avows the non-aggression principle and is willing to make a small contribution to support the activities necessary to running a political party. Any member is eligible to participate in the nominating procedure.

      Whether the candidate is selected by primary or convention the job of either is to identify the person that best represents the principles of the party. Under Top Two people who are not members of the party, who have no commitment to it and may not even understand its principles can effect the selection of that party’s candidate. Even worse it encourages strategic voting where members of other parties try to advance the worst candidate of their competition.

      A much better solution is a reasonable path to ballot access for all and a Ranked Choice Election to select the most popular choice among all ballot qualified candidates.

      • Jim Riley

        In Florida, who determines who may seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party? It is the party bosses who would be filing the lawsuit. Unfortunately, Florida law does not require that the party bosses be chosen by registrants with the party.

        The 2011 law change was triggered when some people registered with the Green Party, and then sought the Green Party nomination. Since they were the only persons seeking the nomination, they qualified for the general election. In Florida, candidates require a quite hefty filing fee, and it was suspected that Republicans had provided assistance. When the Greens sued (with Democrat lawyers providing free legal representation), the candidates could not be found when an attempt was made to serve them with a subpoena.

        At the time, a candidate had to be registered with the party (even if for one day), and not run for a different party in the preceding 6 months.

        The 2011 change required a candidate to be a registrant with the party for 12 months prior to filing. If the Libertarians were to win their lawsuit, it would either mean that a Democrat could file for the Libertarian nomination and be nominated by default, or the party bosses would have to screen potential candidates.

      • Jim Riley

        Here is the fundamental principle:

        A and B and C and … should be able to engage in political association and support the election of candidate Z. They can already do so when they give verbal support or attend campaign rallies, or post to social media #ILikeIke, or display bumper stickers, or yard signs, or buttons, or provide financial support.

        But, when it comes to the most crucial form of political association, actually voting, the state interferes with and restricts free political association.

        If you happen to consider yourself to be a Libertarian you are forbidden by law, except in Louisiana, Washington, and California from voting for a Democrat, unless the Libertarians have won a lawsuit. And even then you aren’t permitted to vote for the candidate becoming governor, or dog catcher, or any office between but only to be the “nominee” of the party.

        You are certainly forbidden from joining with Democrats or Republicans or independents in voting for that particular candidate.

        And what if the people you want to politically associate with to support a gubernatorial candidate are not those you want join with to support a candidate for dog catcher? Its tough luck for you.

  5. Demo Rep

    One more example to have NO primaries.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

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