The Arizona Republic is indifferent to the constitutional freedom of association


The media villagers are a forceful defender of their own freedoms under the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of the press and free speech. Infringe on their freedoms, and they will howl like a scalded dog.

But when it comes to the First Amendment freedom of association of political parties, the media villagers are all “Meh, who cares? We hate political parties.”


Thus after Arizona’s election debacle last Tuesday, the usual suspects at The Arizona Republic used the fiasco to argue in favor of open primaries, and even Paul Johnson’s damn fool idea of the Top Two Primary (entirely unrelated to the Presidential Preference Election). Exemplary of this was E.J. Montini. Arizona – Where registered voters..CAN’T VOTE!

Arizona law already effectively disenfranchises 36 percent of registered voters.

These would be voters who are unaffiliated with any political party.

Independent. The only way those individuals can vote in a presidential primary is to re-register with a political party. And they have to do so 29 days before the election.

It’s ridiculous to think that 36 percent of Arizona voters — can’t vote.

They represent a constituency that is larger than the state’s Democrats.

They represent a constituency that is larger than the state’s Republicans.

How is such exclusion possible?

It should be more and more clear to everyone that Arizona needs to institute an open primary system. Otherwise a plurality of Arizona voters is, essentially, permanently disenfranchised.

* * *

An open primary is something that a number of states already have and others are considering. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson has been working on the idea for some time, and even now he is heading an open primary campaign that would put all candidates on one ballot for primary elections, regardless of party. Then, the two candidates who receive the most votes would face off in the general election, again, regardless of party.

Every voter in the state gets to participate.

You should note Montini’s complete indifference to the constitutional freedom of association  of political parties when it comes to the mythical “independent” voter. Do not call them independents, they are “no party preference,” many of them having elected not to associate with any political party. This is the flip-side to the freedom of association. It is more accurate to call them “Interlopers.”

Freedom of association appears nowhere in the text of the United States Constitution, but has been found by the United States Supreme Court to be grounded in the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

This freedom of association has long been held to protect the associational rights of political parties. The Supreme Court recognizes that freedom of association encompasses the right to include unaffiliated voters in a primary election, and the right of the party to exclude voters from the candidate selection process. See California Democratic Party v. Jones , 530 U.S. 567 (2000) (Opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justices Rehnquist, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas; Breyer concurring opinion. Only Justice Stevens dissented, joind only as to part 1 by Justice Ginsburg):

This Nation has a tradition of political associations in which citizens band together to promote candidates who espouse their political views. The First Amendment protects the freedom to join together to further common political beliefs, Tashjian v. Republican Party of Conn., 479 U. S. 208, at 214-215, which presupposes the freedom to identify those who constitute the association, and to limit the association to those people, Democratic Party of United States v. Wisconsin ex rel. La Follette, 450 U. S. 107, 122. In no area is the political association’s right to exclude more important than in its candidate-selection process. That process often determines the party’s positions on significant public policy issues, and it is the nominee who is the party’s ambassador charged with winning the general electorate over to its views. The First Amendment reserves a special place, and accords a special protection, for that process, Eu, supra, at 224, because the moment of choosing the party’s nominee is the crucial juncture at which the appeal to common principles may be translated into concerted action, and hence to political power, Tashjian, supra, at 216. California’s blanket [open] primary violates these principles. Proposition 198 forces petitioners to adulterate their candidate-selection process-a political party’s basic function-by opening it up to persons wholly unaffiliated with the party, who may have different views from the party. Such forced association has the likely outcome-indeed, it is Proposition 198’s intended outcome-of changing the parties’ message. Because there is no heavier burden on a political party’s associational freedom, Proposition 198 is unconstitutional unless it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. See Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, 520 U. S. 351, 358. Pp. 572-582.

In 2007, the Arizona Libertarian Party successfully argued in the U.S. District Court for Arizona that its primary should be closed to registered members of the Libertarian Party. Ariz. independents can’t vote in Libertarian primary:

The ruling issued Sept. 25 by U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins came in a case filed by the Libertarian Party, which argued that the state’s open primary threatened its right to free association.

Collins agreed, ruling the state’s primary system placed a “severe burden” on the party.

“Arizona’s primary system has created a clear and present danger of a party’s candidate being chosen by people other than party members,” Collins wrote in Arizona Libertarian Party v. Brewer. “A political party’s right to choose its own nominees is a core associational activity and the mandatory inclusion of unaffiliated persons with the political party may seriously distort the party’s decision. … Due to the potential distortion forced on the Libertarian [P]arty by the mandatory inclusion of those not affiliated with the party, Arizona’s primary system imposes a severe burden on the [party].”

The ruling was an affirmation of the right of a political party to choose its own fate, said David Hardy, the Libertarians’ lawyer in the case.

“This is the flip side of free association,” Hardy said. “If you have the right to associate, you have the right not to associate.”

StopTop2The Arizona Republican Party had been considering closing its party primary, but did not follow through on a resolution passed by its rank and file members. The Arizona Republican Party really does not want ‘Independent’ voters.

Of course, the media villagers disparage the constitutional freedom of association of political parties as they shill for open primaries and whore themselves for Paul Johnson’s damn fool Top Two Primary scheme. They are Interlopers who want to destroy the two party system, and replace it with what exactly? That’s the trouble with anarchists, they are good at destroying, but they never consider the consequences of what comes next.


  1. Office-holding politicians brag about being able to “work across the aisle”. They also brag about compromise and bipartisanship. Shouldn’t voters also be able to vote across the aisle, to compromise, and engage in bipartisanship? Aren’t these the marks of a mature political mind — one that transcends tribalism?

    • The constitutional freedom of association was first recognized in the NAACP cases in the 1950s. Should members of the KKK be allowed to join the NAACP and thus destroy its core purpose for being? The NRA similarly limits voting rights to members who have paid dues for something like 10 years before they can vote. This is to prevent anti-NRA individuals from signing up as members and then voting to gut the NRA at its next meeting. Another example: if you ran a business and your board of directors needs to elect a new officer, would you allow just any rabble off the street to vote to elect the new officer, overriding the vote of your actual shareholders? I think not. Same thing for political parties.

      This is not an idle proposition. There is evidence in the GOP primaries that in closed primary states where only Republicans are allowed to vote, Donald Trump has lost or has not done well. It is only in states where so-called “independent” voters are allowed to vote in the GOP primary that Donald Trump is winning or doing well. Opponents of the open primary believe that the open primary leaves the party nominations vulnerable to manipulation and dilution of the registered party members’ votes. See generally

      Fundamental constitutional freedoms are not to be diminished in favor of a majority who would take away those freedoms. That’s what makes them “fundamental” freedoms.

  2. This would be fine if the democratic and republican would allow independents to vote in an independent primary for independent candidates ;but they won’t!

    • An “independent” does not belong to any organized party, that’s why there is no Independent Party. If there was, they could hold a primary just like anyone else. Your paranoid conspiracy theory does not hold water, as usual.

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