“Well, if they have a legitimate argument that they can make and that’s what they want to do, I’m not going to say don’t do it. If they ask my advice, I’m going to say don’t. I didn’t motivate them to do it.”
Ron Paul (on delegate lawsuit)
A group of my fellow Paul supporters decided to get together with an attorney from California and file a lawsuit against the RNC, Reince Priebus, the Republican party of every state in America, and the chair of every state Republican party. The website for the lawsuit, which I will link below, claims that the purpose of the lawsuit is to clarify in court whether or not the national delegates that are going to Tampa are “bound” to vote for Mitt Romney, or if they can vote per their conscience. Sounds like a pretty straightforward argument, but there are many, many factors to consider…the most important being how the laws are interpreted and whether they pertain to delegates or the general election.
Another factor that needs to be considered is whether or not these delegates followed proper procedure to address a complaint through the Republican National Committee. The Republican party is a private organization, and as such, is allowed to enforce their own rules. The lawsuit argues that since the Republican National Convention is a nominating convention for federal office, it is a “federal election”. Once again, an issue that needs clarification. According to 42 U.S.C. § 1971(d):
(b) Intimidation, threats, or coercion
No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the Senate, or Member of the House of Representatives, Delegates or Commissioners from the Territories or possessions, at any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any such candidate.
Notice, however, that the subsection is entitled, “Intimidation, threats, or coercion.” Now, this is open to interpretation. Is it the fault of the RNC and the state parties that people have been “threatened, intimidated, and coerced”, or does the fault lie with the Romney campaign? In one of my previous posts, I referenced that the MA delegates were ousted by the Romney campaign via the Allocation Committee. Does that mean that the state party of MA should be held responsible, or that the Romney campaign, being the decision maker, should be the party being sued? And, if the lawsuit is filed for the purpose of clarification and injunctive relief, why is it based on a section that deals with intimidation and discrimination due to race?
The complaint produces a letter written to National Committeewoman Nancy Lord of the Utah Republican party at the time of the 2008 conventions. It was written to clarify questions that the Utah party posed about binding, because Mitt Romney had dropped from the race and released his delegates to John McCain. One of their delegates wished to vote for Romney, even though he had dropped out. Jennifer Sheehan, assistant counsel for the RNC at the time (and no longer with them), had this to say:
“You are correct the answer is no. The national convention allows delegates to vote for the individual of their choice, regardless of whether the person’s name is officially placed into nomination or not.”
However, what Sheehan DID NOT explain was that in most circumstances, if the person was bound legally to vote for another candidate, that vote would not count. The situation in Utah was also very different: the delegate wanted to vote for a candidate that had already dropped out. Completely different from the current situation.
The original complaint cited a list of plaintiffs that were “national delegates.” We have since learned that not everyone on that list was a national delegate, particularly some of those from unbound caucus states. The complaint has been amended, but the damage has been done. Do we call credibility into question when a lawsuit is filed on behalf of delegates who are not what they say they are? You can read the original complaint here:
The RNC, accordingly, filed a motion to dismiss the suit. They cite protection from intrusion into internal affairs of the Republican party under the 1st and 14th amendments. In this, they are correct. Right of association and petition is guaranteed under the 1st amendment. They also believe that the lawsuit is frivolous, and want it dismissed on several grounds, specifically citing that there has been no violation of federal law. Here is the motion to dismiss:
One need only to look at the 10th amendment to see that they have some protection there as well, since political parties were not in place at the time of the drafting of the Constitution. The 10th amendment states that “any power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution , nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” What that means is that unless a power is specifically enumerated to the Federal government, it is wholly up to the state and the people to decide. There is no mention of political parties in the Constitution, therefore, historically, their inner workings have fallen under the regulation of state laws and private affiliation. Thus, laws on binding delegates have been left up to the state.
In fact, there are rules that address this in the RNC’s Rules for the National Convention:
Under Rule #15:
(1) Delegates and alternate
delegates to the national convention may be elected,
selected, allocated, or bound only in one of the
(i) by primary election;
(ii) by the Republican
state committee, where specifically provided by state
(iii) by state and
Congressional district conventions;
(iv) by any method
consistent with these rules by which delegates and
alternate delegates were elected, selected, allocated, or bound to the most recent Republican National
Convention from that state;
(v) by Rule No. 13 (a)(2)
of these rules.
States also has specific laws relating to delegate binding. You can read those here:
At this point, I have to say that I agree with the RNC. I do believe that by entering into the lawsuit, the delegates have circumvented the process by which grievances are addressed in the GOP, and that they stand in danger of losing their seats. The attorney for the case, Richard Gilbert of Gilbert and Marlowe, has told delegates that they will not lose their seats. I have personally confirmed with Doug Wead, Presidential Historian and advisor to the Paul campaign, that this is simply not so…entire delegations have been removed for less…and for going over the GOP’s collective head, it’s very possible that these delegates may not be seated at all.
Other opponents of the lawsuit believe that delegates should be taking direction from the campaign itself, not those who have said that they are “taking over the campaign”. There has been talk of a deal with Santorum to strip delegates from Romney….some think that he will release his delegates to Paul. I think that is completely off-base, since he has openly endorsed Mitt Romney…and the man is on the ballot. He still has a shot. If you knew that you could become President, would you bow out to someone without a fight?
I will try to keep you updated as the situation progresses…there have been other documents filed, including a response to the motion to dismiss. There are many people who are gung-ho about this lawsuit, some that are ho-hum, and some, outright hostile. So…frivolous or justified? I’ll let you decide.
I’ll keep the information coming…and continue to hope that we can achieve a miracle in Tampa.
“And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters?” Benjamin Franklin