Document:California Press Release 26 June 2000 Libertarians Praise Supreme Court Blanket Primary Decision

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: June 26, 2000
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Libertarians praise Supreme Court blanket primary decision

PANORAMA CITY -- Hailing it as a momentous ruling for all political parties, the Libertarian Party of California praised today's 7-2 Supreme Court decision striking down California's blanket primary, which was approved by voters in March, 1996.

"This vital decision emphasizes the importance of political parties' freedom to choose their own candidates," stated Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle.

"We are very pleased that the Justices, after hearing the arguments from both sides, saw how the blanket primary undermined the very existence of political parties."

Under California's blanket primary system, voters could cast ballots for any primary candidate regardless of party affiliation. The Libertarian Party of California, along with the state Republican and Peace and Freedom parties, joined the lawsuit filed by the state Democratic Party challenging the blanket primary (California Democratic Party v. Jones, 99-401).

In arguments before the Supreme Court in April, state lawyer Thomas Gede defended the blanket primary, saying the election "belongs to the voters" and that the blanket primary has increased voter participation in California.

"In a sense Mr. Gede was right: elections do belong to the voters. But there is an enormous difference in the purposes of partisan primary and general elections," Hinkle noted.

"The whole point of a primary election is for the voters of each party to choose the candidate that best represents their party's point of view for the general election. If any voter can vote for any party's primary candidate, why should political parties even exist?" asked Hinkle.

"Increasing voter participation is a noble goal, but not at the expense of political parties' freedom to associate," Hinkle added. "Voters who affiliate with a particular party should be free to choose that party's candidate without interference from non-party members. Voters who for whatever reason choose not to affiliate with any political party really play no role in party primaries."

Hinkle praised past Libertarian state chair Gail Lightfoot, under whose administration the party joined the lawsuit and who has served as the party's point person on the case for the past four years. "Gail's tireless efforts have borne fruit, and on behalf of all California Libertarians I thank her for her commitment to this case."