Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor:

In the April 20 issue of The Spectrum, Sarah Crowley provides a rundown of the arguments for and against closed and open primary systems. She states that "Opponents of the open primary system argue that it is unconstitutional and violates the freedom of association by allowing outsiders to choose its candidate. In the past, the Supreme Court has supported this conclusion."

This last sentence is incorrect. The Supreme Court has never supported the conclusion that an open primary system violates freedom of association (indeed, if that were the case, there would no longer be any open primary systems in place). Rather, the SCOTUS ruled, in California Democratic Party v. Jones, that the blanket primary violated the first amendment's freedom of association. While the blanket primary shares some features with the more typical open primary (e.g., all voters regardless of party affiliation can vote), they differ in that voters in the former can pick and choose candidates from both parties when casting their votes for all the positions on the ballot (e.g., vote for a Republican for Senator and vote for a Democrat for U.S. House). In an open primary, on the other hand, voters may only select among candidates of a single party for every race on the ballot. The SCOTUS has never ruled against such a system.

Antoine Yoshinaka
Associate Professor
Dept. of Political Science