McKinney-Inspired Lawsuit

Henry Hanks offers a link to a Fox News story about Democrats in Georgia suing to have the results of the 4th district Democratic primary overturned. That’s the seat that used to be held by Cynthia McKinney who was defeated by challenger Denise Majette in the primary.

According to Fox,

The suit claims that black Democratic voters in the 4th District had their voting rights violated and interfered with by the crossover votes. It asks that those crossover votes be declared unconstitutional and invalid and that McKinney be declared the winner of the Democratic primary.

The odds of McKinney being declared the winner are zero to none — even if they prevailed, the obvious remedy would be a new primary, but Majette will be elected to the House long before this ever winds its way through the courts.

But that being said, the voters here might have a case that is relatively strong.

Just two years ago the Supreme Court invalidated California’s blanket primary system as unconstitutional in California Democratic Party vs. Jones. In a blanket primary system, voters are allowed to vote in the primaries of multiple parties. So a California voter could select his or her choice in the Democratic, Republican, Green and Libertarian parties.

Now Georgia has something a bit different with its open primary system. Voters can vote in the Democratic, Republican, Green or Libertarian primary, but they have to choose one and only one party. In Georgia, for example, a person could have voted in the Republican primary or the Democratic primary, but not both.

The problem for open primaries is that the Supreme Court invalidated blanket primaries on First Amendment grounds, and their ruling doesn’t hold out a lot of hope that open primaries will pass muster.

In the majority opinion, Antonin Scalia wrote that the problem with blanket primaries was that they,

forc[e] political parties to associate with those who do not share their beliefs. And it has done this at the crucial juncture at which party members traditionally find their collective voice and select their spokesman. . . . The burden [CaliforniaÂ’s voting system] places on [the political partiesÂ’] rights of political association is both severe and unnecessary.

In fact, in questioning the lawyers before the court in this case, Scalia asked why someone with almost no attachment to a political party should be allowed to select that party’s candidate for political office.

In the dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens assailed the majority decision for what it would do to open primaries. Stevens wrote, “There is surely a danger that open primaries will fare no better against a First Amendment challenge than blanket primaries have.”


Court Rejects ‘Blanket Primary’. ABCNews.Com, June 26, 2000.

Voters File Suit to Invalidate McKinney Election. FoxNews.Com, October 4, 2002.

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