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Case Details

Case: Washington State Grange & Washington v. Washington State Republican Party , et al.
Subject(s): First Amendment, associational rights, elections, primary elections, political parties
Appealed from: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Docket No: 06-713 / 06-730
Decision Rendered: No
Decision: None

Question(s) presented: Does a primary election system that permits candidates to identify a party preference, and then awards a general election ballot spot to the top two vote-getters, violate political parties' rights to associate with the candidates of their choice?

Holding of appellate court: Washington’s California-style blanket primary was struck down in 2003, and voters responded a year later by approving Initiative 872. That measure established a primary election in which all candidates could identify the political party they “preferred,” while not being formally affiliated with the party. In addition, rather than permitting the top vote-getter from each party to advance to the general election, the system permits the two candidates who garner the most votes overall to move forward. Thus, both general election candidates could conceivably be members of the same political party. The Ninth Circuit struck down the modified blanket primary in 2006, holding that it suffered from the same fatal flaw as the discredited blanket primary. Namely, because candidates could have their party “preference” printed on the ballot, they infringed on the parties’ right to associate only with candidates of its own choosing.

Date of Oral Arguments Your Prediction Your Prediction by Justice Update
Affirm Reverse Vacate Justice Affirm Reverse Vacate
Oct 01, 2007 Alito