Independent Voter Project: Courts Are Moving in Right Direction on Voting Rights
On Thursday, July 9, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court discarded parts of Florida’s congressional district maps, saying that state legislators had violated a provision of the Florida constitution prohibiting political considerations in redistricting when drawing the districts.
The Independent Voter Project (IVP) this week filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s “closed” primary election system based on the same premise – elections should serve people, not parties.
Statement from S. Chad Peace, lead attorney for IVP’s legal team:“On the heels of the recent Supreme Court’s decision in the
Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case, in which the court made clear the primacy of individual voter rights over narrow partisan/legislative interests, this case in Florida demonstrates that courts are becoming more willing to assert their judicial authority in recognition of the real and dangerous effect legislative actions like redistricting have on the fundamental right of the individual voter. Clearly, the courts are recognizing that the parties are abusing their legislative responsibilities for their personal, partisan advantage.
Justice Ginsburg's majority opinion in Arizona redistricting case is compelling as she acknowledges that the source of power of the government flows from the people, not political parties or institutions. (In part, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “The animating principle of our Constitution is that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.”)
These types of redistricting decisions at state courts are following the Supreme Court of the United States’ lead: Fundamental fairness applies to individual voters ... Not the narrow interests of the partisans who are in control of a state's legislature.
While we are realistic in our expectations on whether our petition to the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the closed primary election system in New Jersey that denies unaffiliated voters (47% of all voters in NJ) an equally meaningful vote at an integral phase of election process, rulings like the recent Florida decision give us confidence that the courts and the country are moving in the right direction on the issue of fundamental voter’s rights.”
Photo Source: AP