(Update) California’s minor political parties appeal ‘top-two’ electoral system to U.S. Supreme Court


Earlier this year I posted about California’s minor political parties appeal ‘top-two’ system to U.S. Supreme Court:

In January of this year, the Court of Appeal of the State of California (1st District, Division 1) upheld California’s “top-two” primary electoral system in the case of Rubin v. Padilla (.pdf):

StopTop2We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the action. Given the structure of California’s “top-two” electoral system, minor-party candidates have no right to appear on the general election ballot merely because they have made a showing of significant public support. The role played by the general election under the former partisan system is fulfilled by the primary election in the top-two system, and there is no material barrier to minor-party participation in the primary election. Further, the failure of minor-party candidates to appear on the general election ballot does not substantially burden their members’ rights of political association and expression, and California’s interest in expanding participation in the electoral process is adequate to justify any burden that may occur. Lastly, because California’s electoral system treats all political parties identically, plaintiffs’ claim that they are denied equal protection of the laws is groundless.

This is a sweeping dismissal of minor political party rights and limiting the choices of voters in a general election.

The case was appealed to the California Supreme Court, which declined review. California Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Minor Party Lawsuit Against the Top-Two System:

On April 29, the California Supreme Court refused to hear Rubin v Padilla, the case filed by three of California’s minor parties that charges the top-two system injures voting rights in the general election.

This case is now being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. California Minor Parties Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Against Top-Two System:

On July 28, the Peace & Freedom Party, the Libertarian Party of California, and the Green Party of Alameda County will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Rubin v Padilla, the case that argues that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to exclude minor party candidates from the general election ballot. The text of the cert petition is 18 pages. The entire document seems lengthy because it includes the court decisions from the California state courts, which upheld the top-two system. Also the cert petition contains an appendix of data on California elections since top-two sent into effect in 2011.

We’ll have to wait and see if Cert is granted in this case. The Court already has two major election law challenges on its docket for next term, and will likely be adding several more with redistricting cases and Voting Rights Act cases currently in the pipeline.

UPDATE: Michael Rubin, et al., Petitioners v. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, et al. , Docket for 15-135, has been DISTRIBUTED for Conference on October 9, 2015. We may soon know whether Cert will be granted by the Court. Keep an eye on this case.

UPDATE 10/13/15: The U.S. Supreme Court denied Cert  in Michael Rubin, et al., Petitioners v. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, et al. , Docket for 15-135.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


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