Independent Voter Project

Third Circuit Upholds Two-Party Duopoly

On Wednesday, April 8, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the case, Balsam v. Guadagno (Secretary of the State of New Jersey).

The court affirmed a lower district court’s decision to dismiss a constitutional challenge to New Jersey’s closed partisan primary, holding that New Jersey may limit those who have a fundamental right to cast a vote in the primary election to party members.

Appellants argued that New Jersey’s closed primary elections, in a state where 48 percent of voters refuse to join either major party, give the Republican and Democratic private parties a monopoly over the election process at the expense of the public taxpayer. Appellants have further argued that such a monopoly reduces the competitive nature the electoral process — and the political parties, for that matter — should face.

The decision, handed down just a few weeks after oral argument, is perhaps testament to how high the hurdles have been raised for the independent movement against a political institution that has been controlled by political parties for so long.

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