National Political Party Selection of Presidential Nominees: Constitutional and Policy Questions


Any discussion of the process of selecting a presidential nominee must include an evaluation of the degree to which the first and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution afford national political parties the freedom to shape their nominee selection processes and the consequences of restricting that freedom. This issue was squarely presented to the United States Supreme Court in Democratic Party of United States v. La Follette. La Follette concerned Wisconsin’s open primary statute, which permits Wisconsin voters to vote in either primary, regardless of party affiliation. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats may vote in the Democratic primary, just as anyone may vote in the Republican primary. The Democratic Party has had a rule which allows only publicly affiliated Democrats to participate in the selection of the Democratic nominee. This is not a particularly controversial rule. It seems sensible not to require the Democratic Party to invite Republicans to help select the Democratic presidential candidate. The state of Wisconsin violated the rule of the Democratic National Party by requiring the party to accept Wisconsin delegates who were bound by the open primary’s results. The party indicated that it therefore would not seat the Wisconsin delegates.

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Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with