When last we visited the Idaho court case involving a group of Idaho Republicans who wanted to closed-registration for party primaries in the state, the case was tossed. The judge’s reason was that the group of Republicans, led by former state Senator Rod Beck, lacked standing to sue on behalf of the party. That may be a debatable view – highly debatable, since majorities at central state Republican events have voted to support closed primaries – but it seems clear enough: The judge was saying that to launch the case, the party had to specifically act to press the issue.
Well, now it has. On Saturday, the party’s governing unit, the central committee, passed this:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Idaho Republican Party is directed to present legislation to the 2008 Session of the Idaho Legislature within the first month of the legislative session. That legislation shall provide for the immediate and full implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the Idaho State Legislature and Governor of the State of Idaho fail to enact legislation into statute in the 2008 Legislative session that provides for the full and immediate implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule, then within 10 days of the close of the 2008 legislative session, the Idaho Republican Party shall institute litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho against the Secretary of State of the State of Idaho and any other necessary parties. In that suit, the Idaho Republican Party shall demand the full and immediate implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule by the State of Idaho; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Idaho Republican Party shall pursue this litigation vigorously and without undue delay . . .
Hard to see how the party’s formal intent could get much clearer than that. Clear enough that state Chair Kirk Sullivan, who is no fan of closed primaries, on Friday (even before the meeting) proposed a closed-primary measure, which was introduced. Beck, as it happens, blasted the measure, saying “Sullivan’s bill forces the Idaho Democratic Party and other parties into compliance with party registration against their will by using the power of the Secretary of State. I believe the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings demonstrate that Sullivan’s bill is clearly unconstitutional.” (That’s a debatable point too, since state law clearly can govern the actions of parties. Welcome to another lawsuit?)
This fight once somehow seemed a little fringey – something that seemed unlikely to happen, simply because so many legislators and so many Idahoans were opposed. If it ever was, it’s certainly not fringey now. This is a big battle just starting to unroll.Share on Facebook