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Open Primaries

Former Republican US Rep. Sues South Carolina GOP for Cancelling 2020 Presidential Primary

Two South Carolina voters, including a former US congressman, have filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Republican Party, arguing that the party violated state law, the state constitution, and the party's rules when its executive committee "unilaterally and unlawfully canceled the 2020 South Carolina Republican presidential preference primary."

Former US Rep Robert Durden Inglis, of Greenville County, and Frank Heindel, of Charleston County, filed the suit on Tuesday, October 1. They argue:

"South Carolina law, the rules of the South Carolina Republican Party, and the South Carolina Constitution require that a political party use a fair process to determine which candidate the state party supports in the general election. They don’t necessarily require a political party to hold a presidential preference primary election in all presidential election years.Rather, they merely require that if a party wishes to cancel its primary, it must observe certain democratic safeguards that ensure that a party’s supporters—and not just a small junta of party bosses—support canceling the primary, and the party must instead choose which candidate it will support at its state convention."

However, plaintiffs argue that the party didn't follow any of the democratic safeguards required by law. But it is not just state law. The plaintiffs point to a party rule that requires a presidential primary unless “decided otherwise by the state party convention within two (2) years prior to each presidential election year.”

They also say that the Republican Party has turned its back on its own principles:

"[T]he Republican Party has gone so far as to argue to a court that canceling a presidential primary would cause 'irreparable harm to the public interest' because 'the citizens of South Carolina deserve an opportunity to vote on the Republican nominee for President of the United States.'”
But here—for whatever reason—the State Executive Committee of the South Carolina Republican Party has not heeded its own wise counsel from 2014 and 2015. And its failure to do so violated its own rules, the South Carolina Election Law, and the South Carolina Constitution."

The Republican Party of South Carolina is one of a handful of Republican Parties that have cancelled their 2020 presidential primaries, denying even their own members an opportunity to vote for their preferred presidential candidate next year.

Read the full complaint:

About the Author

Kaia Los Huertos

Kaia Los Huertos graduated from San Diego State University in 2015 with a B.A. in Sociology. She is a Voices for Children Court Appointed Special Advocate, and is committed to increasing civil rights for all communities.

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