The Supreme Court of the United States will consider whether or not to take up two open primary cases in Montana and Hawaii at its May 11 conference. The cases were brought by the majority party in both states in an effort to get rid of the open primary process.
Lower federal courts in both cases ruled that neither the Democratic Party of Hawaii nor the Republican Party of Montana were able to produce sufficient evidence that the open partisan primary process burdened their constitutional rights of association — the main complaint from both parties.
“The Democratic Party’s facial challenge fails because the Party has not developed evidence showing that Hawaii’s open primary system severely burdens its associational rights,” wrote Judge A. Wallace Tashima for the Ninth Circuit in the Hawaii case.
“The Democratic Party’s preference for limiting primary participants to registered Party members, coupled with the fact that more people vote in Democratic primaries than are formally registered with the Party, is not sufficient to show that Hawaii’s open primary system severely burdens the Party’s associational rights.”
Similar conclusions were found in the Montana case as well. But now the case is before the Supreme Court, and if the justices decide to take up one or both cases, any precedent set could have broad consequences on elections across the United States.