US Supreme Court Amicus Briefs

MEMORANDUM FOR ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF POLITICAL PARTIES AND/OR EXPRESSION
The Amicus Memo is a concise two-page document that reviews the issues presented, facts and proceedings in the lower courts, and what we hope to achieve. The memo is an easy way to get up to speed on the case.

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BRIEF OF SEN. MIKE LEE, SEN. TED CRUZ, REP. RAÚL LABRADOR, AND REP. ROB BISHOP
Summary of argument: The Tenth Circuit’s opinion wrongly holds that a “political party” may be defined as expansively as possible for First Amendment associational-rights purposes. ...The Utah statute strips core Party activists of their ability to select nominees who are loyal to the Party platform. When the state manipulates the nomination process to stack the deck in favor of some types of candidates it both undermines parties’ associational rights and denies voters a genuine electoral choice.

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BRIEF OF EAGLE FORUM EDUCATION & LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
Summary of argument: The Utah legislation at issue, SB54, cannot be justified based on its underlying goal of reducing extremism in political nominees. Some considered to be extremist today may be viewed as a moderate in the future, and vice-versa. As Justice Scalia emphasized for the Court, "[iI]n no area is the political association’s right to exclude more important than in the process of selecting its nominee."

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BRIEF OF JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. AND ALLIED EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
Summary of argument: Amici respectfully submit that [the Tenth Circuit’s] ruling is both dangerous and wrong. It is dangerous because it affords state governments the upper hand in a long-running battle—first identified and described by Alexis de Tocqueville—between private associations, which are necessary in democratic societies to afford citizens a unifying power against the central authorities, and the central authorities themselves, which oppose private associations for that very reason. The ruling is wrong because it simply ignores the independent associational rights held by political parties, as opposed to their individual members, and because it slights the severe burden on those parties imposed by government interference with their structure and organization.

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BRIEF OF PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION, CATO INSTITUTE, AND FREEDOM PARTNERS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Summary of argument: … [P]olitical parties often are treated as the black sheep of the associative organizational family. California Democratic Party v. Jones, (2000), acknowledged the central importance of political parties in American governance. But despite the Court’s strong pro-association ruling in Jones, dicta in that and other cases suggest that states can interfere with the internal affairs of a political party and control how the party selects its nominee for political office. ...But political parties are more than just the sum total of their membership. Party leadership plays an indispensable role in the recruitment and selection of ideologically consistent candidates—usually without the affirmative participation or consent of the majority of its members.

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BRIEF OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Summary of argument: The Tenth Circuit made a number of significant errors when it ruled that the State of Utah could regulate the URP’s process for nominating candidates. This ruling hurts the constitutional rights of political parties everywhere. Three consequences of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling will be discussed in this brief: (1) political parties will have a decreased ability to protect associational rights because there will be no distinction between a party’s burdens and the party’s members’ burdens; (2) political parties will no longer have a fundamental right to choose their own candidate selection process; and (3) political parties will have no right to stop the negative aspects of money in intra-party elections, thereby lessening the importance of a candidate’s actual views and commitment to a party’s platform.

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BRIEF FOR PRIVATE CITIZEN, INC.
Summary of argument: The [Supreme] Court’s passing statements in White, Jones, and Lopez Torres led the Tenth Circuit astray. The panel interpreted this trifecta of cases as providing license for a lower court to ignore the burden on a the injury suffered by individual members. To be sure, White, Jones, and Lopez Torres each describe a way in which a state may permissibly alter a party’s candidate nomination process. But none of these precedents license lower courts to mischaracterize or ignore a political party’s claim of a severe institutional First Amendment injury. The decision ...also highlights a significant danger lurking for all expressive associations. If lower courts are permitted to entirely ignore the institutional First Amendment injury suffered by an expressive association—instead focusing only on the rights of individual members—expressive associations of all stripes will suffer.

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BRIEF OF UTAH LEGISLATORS, CURRENT AND FORMER
Summary of argument: For some time, interests in the business wing of the Party have sought a way for their candidates to utilize the Party’s name on the general election ballot without having to deal with the Party’s uncontrollable and unpredictable nominating process. SB54—the legislation at issue—embodies those efforts. The Party’s nominating process, a manifestation of its First Amendment right of association, employs representative democracy to limit the need for money—and thus limit the influence of monied special interests. This preference for selecting nominees by prioritizing direct interaction between candidates and constituents is an archetypal example of an associative right protected by the First Amendment.

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