The Case Against Kurita

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Rosalind Kurita has good reason to be pessimistic about convincing a federal judge to give her back the Democratic state Senate nomination. In his brief for Friday’s hearing here, state Attorney General Bob Cooper makes the compelling argument that her case is a political question that courts ought to stay out of. Kurita is claiming the Democratic Party executive committee violated her due process rights with a willy-nilly procedure when it tossed out her 19-vote primary victory over Tim Barnes. According to the AG, her argument is irrelevant. The committee isn’t a “state actor,” Cooper writes, and therefore doesn’t have to follow any rules. As a matter of fact, the judge would be violating the party’s First Amendment rights to do as it pleases if he puts Kurita back on the ballot, Cooper says. Political parties enjoy a right of association, or a right not to associate in Kurita's case.
“The power to select a nominee for a political party … has never been exclusively reserved for and exercised by the state of Tennessee. In fact, federal case law compels the opposite conclusion: the choosing of a nominee is a right reserved for and exclusively exercised by political parties, and it is a right protected by the First Amendment.”
Cooper is explaining what so many people have had a hard time understanding about this little tale of treachery. Political parties are like the moose lodge down the street. They get to decide who wears the antlers and who doesn’t.

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