Judicial Watch and Allied Educational Foundation File Supreme Court Brief Objecting to Utah Power Grab at the Expense of Grassroots Activists
DECEMBER 27, 2018
Republican Party Leadership Pushed Through Law to Undermine Party Activists
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced it joined with Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in filing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn a decision of the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding a Utah law engineered by Republican legislators to compel Republican Party members to change the way they choose their political candidates.
Until 2014, GOP party members, meeting in neighborhood and local caucuses, elected delegates to represent them at the party nominating convention, which then selected candidates to appear on the general election ballot. That changed when the Utah legislature enacted into law SB 54, which effectively compels parties to hold primary elections.
The law was challenged in the courts, was upheld by the Tenth Circuit, and is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (Utah Republican Party v. Spencer J. Cox, et al. (No. 18-450)).
Judicial Watch argues that the Republican Party rammed through the legislature provisions they could not get voluntarily from their fellow party members:
If allowed to stand, the Tenth Circuit’s decision will significantly degrade the associational rights of political parties. This result is contrary to Supreme Court precedent….
As the Tenth Circuit majority acknowledged, the Utah Legislature that adopted SB 54 is “comprised of overwhelming Republican majorities in both the State House and State Senate.” In other words, members of the Utah Republican Party who could not convince fellow members to adopt the changes incorporated in SB 54 reconvened as legislators, voted their preferences into law, and in this way compelled their fellow members to accept these changes.
The rationale offered for this party coup was remarkably thin.
Judicial Watch also points to the importance of upholding the constitutional rights of free political associations:
[T]he Tenth Circuit’s facile approach fails to do justice to a fundamental First Amendment right. As Alexis de Tocqueville discerned almost 180 years ago, free political associations are particularly important in a democratic system like ours, where the tendency is for individuals to go their own separate ways. As he also foresaw, governments will tend to view private political associations as enemies and will try to restrict their freedom. Amici respectfully submit that the Court plays a vital role in defending these institutions from needless government encroachments and intrusions – like those SB 54 imposes on the Utah Republican Party.
“Republican power-brokers in Utah hate party conventions which they can’t control so they passed an unconstitutional law to control the party at the expense of grassroots activists,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Supreme Court should not allow this to stand.”
The Allied Educational Foundation is a charitable and educational foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life through education. In furtherance of that goal, the Foundation has engaged in a number of projects, which include, but are not limited to, educational and health conferences domestically and abroad. AEF has partnered frequently with Judicial Watch to fight government and judicial corruption and to promote a return to ethics and morality in the nation’s public life.