Independent Voter Project

Independent Voter Project Defends Nonpartisan Voting Rights before Third Circuit

Oral argument in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was heard Tuesday morning in the case, Balsam, et al. v. Guadagno (New Jersey Secretary of State).

The Independent Voter Project represented the plaintiffs in the suit, which was originally filed in the district court in Newark, New Jersey on March 5, 2014.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of New Jersey’s election system, which gives political parties and their members exclusive access to an integral stage of the public election process: the closed primary.

Following oral arguments, Chad Peace, representing the plaintiffs and the Independent Voter Project, said, “Regardless of the outcome, we are very pleased that the appeals court is considering this case with the thoughtful seriousness and genuine interest that it deserves.”

The three-judge panel was led by Senior Judge Franklin Stuart Van Antwerpen. Donna Kelly represented the state of New Jersey. Oral arguments were scheduled for 15 minutes for both plaintiff and defendant.

Opening for the plaintiffs, attorney Sam Gregory, citing California Democratic Party v. Jones, asserted that courts have repeatedly upheld the notion that states cannot force parties and nonmember voters to affiliate with each other. Citing Gray v. Sanders, Gregory further argued that the Supreme Court has made it clear that the fundamental concept of equal representation and “one person, one vote” applies to all elections — including primary elections.

In the plaintiffs’ closing rebuttal arguments, Peace asked the judges to imagine substituting religious faiths for political parties in a similar circumstance.

Read the full article on IVN

Listen to the Oral Arguments below:


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