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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Supreme Court Upholds Wash. Primary System

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state of Washington's open primary system, voting 7-2 that the state may allow the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election, regardless of their self-designated party affiliation.

The major political parties challenged the law, called I-872, saying it violated their First Amendment right to free association by stripping them of their right to nominate their own candidates and forcing them to associate with a candidate they might not endorse.

The district court agreed and struck down the law in its entirety and enjoined the state from implementing it. The appeals court affirmed, holding that I-872 severely burdens the political parties' associational rights by creating an "impression of association" between a candidate and his party of preference.

The high court overturned this decision and said the law is facially constitutional. Rejecting the state's chosen system would have been an "extraordinary and precipitous nullification of the will of the people," Justice Thomas wrote.

Justices Scalia and Kennedy dissented.

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