Thursday, August 31, 2006

On the Virginia open primary case

In Miller v. Brown, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by District Judge Goodwin reversed the District Court's dismissal for lack of standing and lack of ripeness in the case challenging Virginia's open primary statute, Va. Code § 24.2-530, which says simply: " All persons qualified to vote, pursuant to §§ 24.2-400 through 24.2-403, may vote at the primary. No person shall vote for the candidates of more than one party."

The plaintiffs sent some kind of notice to the State Board of Elections about how they want their primary in 2007, then filed suit to challenge the statute. The Court agreed that 2007 is not so far away as to make the case non-justiciable: "Knowing that voters wholly unaffiliated with the plaintiffs’ party will participate in their primary dramatically changes the plaintiffs’ decisions about campaign financing, messages to stress, and candidates to recruit. Because campaign planning decisions have to be made months, or even years, in advance of the election to be effective, the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries are actual and threatened."

For reasons I've forgotten, the Jaded JD is the expert on this case, knows it inside and out, predicted the outcome of the appeal, and has this preliminary post on what the appeals court decision does not mean.

One thing that occurred me just now, as I was writing a note to the Jaded JD, is that if the case is appealed again, normally the same panel would get the case, but would that be true with a District Judge on the panel? I don't know the answer. Judge Goodwin certainly is able to articulate the plaintiff's arguments, whether or not he agrees with them.

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