On June 11, 2012, Gilbert & Marlowe filed a lawsuit (Case Number SACV 12-00927) at the Ronald Reagan Courthouse in Santa Ana, California, Ninth Federal Circuit on behalf of GOP delegates, against the Republican National Committee, it’s Chairman, Rince Priebus, as well as every state Republican Party and their chairmen, under the jurisdiction of the 9th circuit courts. So far 163 delegates have joined in the lawsuit, a number that is expected to rise.
The suit’s primary goal is to seek the court’s guidance regarding the delegates’ right to vote their conscience on the first round of the Republican National Convention in Tampa on August, 23, 2012.
What does that mean? Well, some states have laws that bind delegates to the winner of the state’s popular votes. In other words, the state, either by it’s bylaws, state laws, or in some cases outside intimidation, attempt to force the delegates to vote for a particular candidate. But these rules and/tactics are not recognized by the National Republican Party. In fact, The Rules of the Republican Party states clearly under Rule 38, The Unit Rule, that, “No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule.” The unit rule is simply a state rule that binds delegates to vote as a “unit”.
The core assertion of the suit is that the Convention of a National Party is a “Federal Election” subject to the laws of the United States Supreme Court and the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. The outcome of the suit will be largely determined on how the court rules on this matter.
The Code of Federal Regulations – Title 11(e) would suggest that a convention is an election.
Code of Federal Regulations – Title 11: Federal Elections
11 CFR 100.2 – Election
(e) Caucus or Convention. A caucus or convention of a political party is an election if the caucus or convention has the authority to select a nominee for federal office on behalf of that party.
The U.S. Code is clear that voters in an election have the right to vote whichever way they see fit and any attempt to deny someone that right is a violation of law.
42 USC § 1971 – Voting rights
No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the Senate, or Member of the House of Representatives, Delegates or Commissioners from the Territories or possessions, at any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any such candidate.
This bill comes largely as a revolt against the presumption by the Republican National Committee that Romney has collected the 1144 delegates needed to cinch the GOP Nomination.
The truth is Romney only has 1107 delegates, as per the latest counts listed at thereal2012delegatecount.com. However, if delegates cannot be bound to a candidate, and under law have the right to vote their conscience at the National Convention, then it cannot be known by anybody, with certainty, who the nominee will be until after the delegates have, via the convention process, chosen a nominee.
The reality is that for nearly six months now, the Republican National Committee has in fact broken it’s own rule. Rule 11 from the Rules of the Republican Party states:
RULE NO. 11
(a) The Republican National Committee shall not, without the prior written and filed approval of all members of the Republican National Committee from the state involved, contribute money or in-kind aid to any candidate for any public or party office except the nominee of the Republican Party or a candidate who is unopposed in the Republican primary after the filing
deadline for that office…
The law suit states:
The RNC and it’s Chairman, Defendant Rince Priebus, have combined with a particular candidate with all of the aid the RNC can possible, but improperly give in violation of Rule 11 to obstruct, intimidate and harass Delegates from voting their conscience.
Obstruct, intimidate and harass… Yes that is right. The Delegates in this case allege:
In almost every state the Defendants engaged in a scheme to intimidate and harass Delegates who where supporting a Candidate the Defendants did not approve of. This harassment included the use of violence, intimidating demands that Delegates sign affidavits under penalty of perjury with the threat of criminal prosecution for perjury as well as financial penalties and fines if the Delegate fails to vote as instructed…
The list of grievances against the Defendants include:
untimely Rule changes designed to deny a quorum or to manipulate Delegates supporting a particular Candidate to be deprived of a fair election as a Delegate
threats of violence from security personnel who sought out individuals supporting Candidates other than Mitt Romney and had them removed
refusing to certify Delegates who were properly elected to support a Candidate that Defendants did not approve of
certifying unlawful slates of Delegates that were not elected in accordance with the US Statues and US Supreme Court Decisions cited, nor in accordance with the proper Bylaws of Defendants
altering the voting ballot results to fraudulently reflect an outcome that is inconsistent with the actual voting ballot results
These are serious allegations. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, the proceedings in Tampa, come August, could become one of the most authentic spectacles of Democracy this Republic has seen in a long, long time.