It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to… but I won’t be subject to judicial review. You would cry too if it happened to you!
A recent class-action lawsuit by Bernie Sanders supporters accuses the Democratic National Committee of violating its bylaws during last year’s nomination contest. DNC lawyers have responded that there’s still nothing anybody could do about it by suing them. Cue the outrage over the DNC’s apparent argument, as has been reported, that they have some kind of right to be corrupt.
But it’s not outrageous for the DNC to assert they have sole control over the Democratic presidential nomination process. They do.
Remember all those state-run elections that we call the primaries? Primaries don’t pick party nominees. It’s just a “presidential preference vote” provided for the parties as a free gift from the taxpayers. Think of it as a glorified public opinion poll.
The parties, private organizations, mind you, take or disregard those results and apply them to how they choose to allocate national convention delegates. It is those delegates, in turn, that grant the status of “Democratic Party presidential nominee,” a private title and not a public office subject to constitutional strictures or legislative rules.
If the DNC’s bylaws are violated in this process, there’s an existing, internal appeals process. Think of it as an intra-corporation matter, not subject to outside pressure. Their lawyers are right – even if the optics of the arrangement don’t look good.
Would any political party, present or future, want a court to substitute its own judgement as to who should be the party’s nominee for president?
I can tell you that a large number of complaints about bylaw violations would be tossed as unenforceable for vagueness. Others are simply inherently political questions: A party’s internal bodies could consider those, but no court should. Who wants a federal judge deciding what counts as “consistent with” a party’s platform, when even its members cannot agree on that among themselves.
Sure, it’s kind of funny that lawyers for the Democratic National Committee, standing accused of improper bias in their nomination process, responded with “even if we did, so what?” But it’s not the wrong answer.
The real question worth is why we spend millions of taxpayer dollars every year to have state-run primary elections, and that the parties are then totally free to ignore? If it’s their process and they control it, then they should pay for it, too.