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Bryan Fischer: Closed Primary Case Argued in Federal Court

February 19th, 2009 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

Attorney Christ (rhymes with wrist) Troupis, whom many will recognize as the attorney who successfully fought for our right to vote in the battle with Boise over the Ten Commandments, argued effectively in federal court yesterday that Supreme Court rulings obligate the state of Idaho to allow the Republican Party in Idaho to restrict participation in primary elections to those who are willing to register publicly as members of the party.

Country club Republicans, who tend to be skittish if not downright embarrassed when social issues emerge in public policy, like open primaries in part because it makes it easier for moderate Republicans and harder for conservative Republicans to win primary contests. Social conservatives prefer closed primaries for the obvious and opposite reasons. They like not letting the other team help them pick their starting lineup.

The Idaho Republican Party has adopted a rule which requires that its primaries be closed, and the Supreme Court has ruled that associational rights guaranteed them under the First Amendment require the state to honor that rule.

In response to a question regarding the additional costs that might be imposed, Troupis responded “deftly” (Judge Winmill’s word) that constitutional rights trump any moderate increase in costs.

Winmill seemed to be leaning in the direction of the closed primary position, and if so, may well issue a ruling in time for the legislature to take necessary action this year.

Political considerations may be playing a role here. This is a case that may well make its way to the Supreme Court, which may make the Idaho attorney general’s office eager to keep fighting for open primaries since the dream of every attorney is to argue a case before the Supreme Court.

And Judge Winmill, who may have Supreme Court aspirations of his own, will want to produce an opinion that is likely to be upheld by the Supreme Court should the case make it that far. No judge wants to suffer the indignity of having one of his prominent rulings overturned by the high court.

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