“In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance. “
The lawsuit, which alleges voter fraud, was primarily based on the question of whether delegates should be able to vote by their conscience at the Republican National Convention, rather than adhering to state binding laws. Apparently, the court believes that the Voting Rights Act of 1971 cannot be interpreted as such, and that the law deals with racial discrimination, not the general population.
The document can be viewed here:
The ruling says that the plaintiffs’ (delegates) claims of fraud were “often too vaguely described to be intelligible.” The plaintiffs’ alleged that the Republican National Committee unlawfully used State bylaws, intimidated and harassed delegates, altered ballot results, threatened delegates with violence and assault, and denied them their right to vote for who they wanted to. While some of this has happened, the judge did not feel that the allegations were clear enough.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when the allegations fail to set forth a set of facts that, if they were true, would entitle the complainant to relief. The pleadings have to be beyond speculation; a plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
The RNC had argued that the original complaint was not a pleading, and that the GOP‘s First Amendment rights would be violated if the court accepted the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the Voting Rights Act of 1971. The RNC claims that the plaintiffs’ attorney did not Meet and Confer as per the ADR requirement, nor did the objections address the merits of their motion to dismiss. Gilbert’s opposition alleged that there was conflict of interest between the RNC counsel and the defendants. This argument does not work. Gilbert’s team would have needed to prove that the counsel had not met the burden of compliance, and they did not do so.
From the ruling:
“With one exception, Plaintiffs’ allegations are not sufficiently intelligible
for this Court to even analyze whether they can state a claim.”
The court felt that there were no actual pleadings, just conclusions, and they were not entitled to the assumption of truth. (Ashcroft v. Iqbal)
The ruling also stated that the plaintiffs’ did not cite a single case that dealt with the Voting Rights Act of 1971 or any election law on the First Amendment, though the complaint did allude to the section regarding private right of seeking an injunction and declaratory relief. The RNC counsel did not dispute that. However, the DVDs that Gilbert’s team submitted weren’t admissible because they couldn’t be verified and they weren’t submitted correctly. They would have needed to be submitted before the RNC filed the motion to dismiss, as part of the original complaint. They were not submitted until afterward.
The court also said that the plaintiffs’ claims lacked plausibility and that it was difficult to discern what harm had been done. From the ruling:
“These allegations are all riddled with the same error. For example, Plaintiffs’ vague reference to “State Bylaws” gives this Court no inkling as to which of the 50 states and which of the millions of pages of bylaws Plaintiffs refer. Similarly, Plaintiffs’ use of the passive voice renders it impossible to discern who broke the bones of whom, who pointed a gun at whom, and whether any of the more than 100 Defendants were even involved.
Finally, Plaintiffs’ vague allegations of voting ballot fraud occurring somewhere at sometime and apparently committed simultaneously by all “Defendants” lacks plausibility. While Plaintiffs make an oblique reference to a voting machine somewhere in Arizona, the lack of clarity in this allegation is insufficient to raise it to a level above mere speculation.
Thus, this Court does not accept these allegations as true.”
It was also confirmed by the court that parties have the right to exclude people from membership and leadership roles under the First Amendment. The GOP also has the right to “choose a candidate-selection process that will in [the party’s] view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform.”
The ruling does explain that the right of free association is not an absolute:
Of course, “[n]either the right to associate nor the right to participate in political activities is absolute.” Democratic Party of United States v. Wisconsin, 450 U.S. 107, 124 (1981). For example, a political party’s right to exclude does not protect a party’s demand of ideological fealty from its members where such a demand violates other constitutional rights, such as the Fifteenth Amendment. “
The court did not feel that these rights were violated, and that the plaintiffs did not cite any case law or make any argument of “what government interest their interpretation of Section 1971(b) serves.” The ruling further clarifies that signing a pledge or being bound does not fall under the Voting Rights Act.
The most important part of the ruling, and the most telling, is this:
“To avoid this decision being misused, the Court emphasizes what this case is not. This is not a case in which Defendants’ conditioning of delegate status is based on a racial motive or has a disparate impact on minority voters. This is not a case alleging abuse of government officials’ authority.
This is not a case where Defendants’ acts were accomplished through
violence or economic coercion, given that Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding broken bones and guns are inadequately pled.
Finally, this is not a case alleging a violation of a specific law (other
than 42 U.S.C. § 1971(b)) or specific party rule, given that Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding unspecified “State Bylaws” are unintelligible. Thus, the Court’s extremely narrow holding in this case leaves unscathed both the Voting Rights Act and political parties’ First Amendment right of association.”
While the case was dismissed, the court did so without prejudice and is allowing a third and final attempt at filing a complaint, on or before August 20th.
The Motion to Expedite was also denied.
Gilbert posted these messages on Twitter, under the username USA_Patriot_Press, to reassure those who were deeply involved in the case, as well as other Paul supporters who have been following the suit:
“The Court requires an Amended Complaint We will both file an Amended Complaint as well as file an Appellate Writ”
“We shall at the same time to seek the guidance of both Courts. Do not be confused by the technical language of granting the motion”
“The case survives”
The Paul campaign is still challenging delegations in MA, LA, and OR through the Republican National Committee. Those challenges must be resolved by the Credentials Committee prior to the convention.
While this dismissal comes as a blow to the delegates’ hopes, the Paul campaign may still have a shot at seating delegates who have been ousted from their seats. The fat lady isn’t singing yet.
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. “