Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Grange loses again as 9th Circuit affirms "Top Two" primary is unconstitutional

Wonderful news this afternoon:
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Washington's "top-two" primary system, ruling Tuesday that it infringes on the rights of political parties to choose their own nominees.

The top-two system was ruled unconstitutional last summer - before it was ever used - by U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly. The state attorney general's office and the Washington State Grange, which promoted the system, asked the appeals judges to overturn that decision.
We are very pleased by the 9th Circuit's ruling. We have long argued that the "Top Two" primary, put into place by Initiative 872, is not constitutional. (See our Special Report on the primary system and why it's unsound for the state. )

So is the leadership of both the State Democratic and Republican parties:
"We are delighted with the ruling," said Dwight Pelz, the chairman of the state Democratic Party. "This means Democrats and all political parties will be able to have a direct voice in choosing their nominees for office."

He said the state has already conducted a successful election under the Montana primary, "and we've demonstrated that voters can navigate through new ballot. The state will adopt to the new system, and democracy will move forward."


Diane Tebelius, the state Republican chairwoman, also cheered the ruling. "The 9th Circuit affirmed the importance of the First Amendment and emphasized that candidates do not have the right to hijack the party name for personal political ambition. We believe it's a victory for everyone."
Pelz and Tebelius are absolutely right. This is a victory for Democrats, Republicans, and anyone who cares about grassroots politics.

The decision ensures that the open primary (better known as the pick-a-party primary) will remain in place this year and perhaps for the forseeable future.

The state and the Grange could appeal the decision, but they're 0-2 now and not likely to prevail on appeal. The Grange is clearly contemplating backing a new initiative to make all offices nonpartisan - a horribly misguided idea that we will strongly oppose if the Grange pursues it.

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