Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fourth Circuit rules on Virginia's open primary statute

In MILLER v. BROWN, the Fourth Circuit held that a Virginia statute permitting an official seeking re-election to force his party to pick its nominee for the seat in an open primary is unconstitutional. The court ruled unanimously that open primaries are constitutional when freely chosen by a political party because state law also provides the option of closing the nominating process by holding conventions or canvasses, known as "firehouse primaries."But when an elected state official seeking another term uses the law to force his party to open the nomination to every voter through a primary, it violates the party's First Amendment's right of free association.

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