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High court to review Wash. primary system

By The Associated Press
02.26.07

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said today it would consider the constitutionality of a statewide primary election system in which the top two finishers advance to the general election even if they are from the same party.

The justices said they would hear arguments in the fall in a case from Washington state over its "top-two" primary system that voters created. The case is State of Washington v. Washington Republican Party.

The system allows candidates to indicate their party affiliation on the ballot and is open to voters regardless of their party. The system is the successor to the blanket primary that the Supreme Court struck down in 2000 on the grounds that it violated political parties' rights.

The Washington Democratic and Republican parties sued to block the new system, approved by voters in 2004. The parties said they would be forced to be associated with candidates they did not choose.

Lower federal courts agreed with the parties. The new system, which has never been used, infringes on the rights of political parties to choose their own nominees, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

"The net effect is the parties do not choose who associates with them and runs using their name; that choice is left to the candidates and forced upon the parties," Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the 9th Circuit in Washington State Republican Party v. State of Washington.


Previous
9th Circuit won't reinstate Washington's 'top 2' primary
Three-judge panel says system, which voters approved to replace state's blanket primary, infringes on rights of political parties to choose their own nominees. 08.23.06

Related

High court again refuses to examine Washington's blanket primary

Justices, who had declined to hear state's appeal last month, turn down similar petition by group that backed creation of election system in 1930s. 03.22.04

High court to revisit primary-election politics
By Tony Mauro Justices must weigh association rights of political parties against rights of voters, candidates to have access to political system. 02.27.07

2006-07 Supreme Court case tracker

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