Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


blanket primary, primary election, primaries, election, political party, freedom of association, political polarization, representation, turnout, participation, gridlock, California, state interest


I argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling in California Democratic Party v. Jones should be reconsidered and overturned, allowing states to adopt blanket-primary election systems. Given the crucial role that primaries play in the public process of elections, parties’ rights of association should not trump the right of the people to select their own representatives. In Jones, the Court applied a stricter constitutional test than necessary, leading to an erroneous conclusion. I demonstrate why a more flexible test would have been more appropriate for judging primary elections. Under this alternative test, public state interests are weighed against party rights injuries. I show that party fears of crossover voting, reduced member influence, and unfair outcomes are either grossly exaggerated or entirely misplaced. More importantly, I highlight the significant public and state interests: increasing accurate representation, meaningful ballots, true voter choice, turnout, political participation, civility; and reducing political polarization and policy making gridlock. These state interests far outweigh the slight constriction of party autonomy during primary elections.