Washington State: Bob Bauer's analysis of Washington "top two" case
Bob Bauer writes on ACSblog.org: Political parties are having a hard time, and as the Supreme Court meets this week, it will hear their most recent complaint. It is not the complaint most in the news, as each national party grasps for control over its own Presidential nominating schedule. The Court will hear from parties that one state, Washington State, has approved what is called a “modified blanket primary” system, the effect of which is to deprive them of their right to choose their own candidates for partisan political office. Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 460 F.3d. 1108 (2006).
Under the Washington arrangement, approved in 2004 by initiative, all voters of all parties participate in a primary, voting for any candidate they choose. The top vote-getters face each other. But any candidate can express her party preference, at her option, and this preference is reflected on the ballot. Hence the candidate who emerges may be associated with a party, by self-selection, but without the party’s consent, and perhaps over its active opposition. In fact, this system could produce two candidates identifying themselves as, say, Republicans, and they will face each other: but neither may be truly a Republican, and neither may have any support within their own party, or the backing or endorsement of any formal party process such as a convention.
The Republican party, challenging this arrangement, has won both rounds in court, leading to the case now before the Supreme Court. The State of Washington believes that the Republicans have it wrong in imagining that their associational rights are infringed by the blanket primary. -- Guest Blogger: Does Washington State's "modified blanket primary" system violate the right of association?