Disenfranchisement case to be heard in Nevada tomorrow. Could be impacted by unanimous Supreme Court decision made today

The attempt by supporters of Hillary Clinton to change the rules of the Nevada Democratic caucus, which have been approved for months, goes to court tomorrow. A Supreme Court decision issued today based on a case from New York State seems to undermine the arguments of the plaintiffs.

For me, this episode is one of the most despicable acts we’ve seen in the campaign so far this year. We expect Republicans to block voters from participating, but not Democrats. According to the Las Vegas Sun (my new favorite paper, for this week anyway) the case may be doomed already over timing issues. Basically, the plaintiffs waited too long to file:

It appeared that the plaintiffs, another legal expert said, “just waited too late in the day to entertain these types of issues.”

The doctrine is meant to prevent last-minute litigation when rules could have been challenged earlier, said Edward B. Foley, professor of law at Moritz College of Law and the director of the election law program at Ohio State University.

“The court is likely to ask: Why couldn’t they have brought this sooner? Why is it filed now?”

Supporters of the lawsuit have said they didn’t become aware of the caucus rules until recently, though the rules were passed by the state party in March.

They became very “aware” of the rules after Obama got endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union. Which brings me to today’s Supreme Court ruling explained after the break.

One of the legal expert interviewed by the Sun made this astute comment:

Even if the judge discounts the timing, Foley said, courts have largely given wide latitude to parties to come up with their own rules.

“This is arguably an internal party matter,” he said. “Case law from the U.S. Supreme Court gives considerable deference to parties.”

Astute, because interestingly, a Supreme Court case unanimously decided today may undermine the lawsuit brought by the Clinton supporters. That case revolves around political parties in New York State choosing judicial candidates. From The NY Times:

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld New York’s unique system of choosing trial judges Wednesday, setting aside critics’ concerns that political party bosses control the system.

”A political party has a First Amendment right to limit its membership as it wishes and to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.

The Nevada State Democratic Party chose a candidate-selection process that was accepted by all the players — until just about a week ago. On an early reading, seems like today’s Supreme Court decision works in the favor of the state party’s approved plan.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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