God bless U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs

I say that because her ruling kept me, and the other sensible folk who refuse to surrender their ability to think to a party, from being disenfranchised by the SC Republican Party:

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit by Republicans Wednesday who wanted South Carolina to begin requiring voters to register with a party before voting in a primary.

If Republicans don’t want outsiders to help choose their nominees, they have other options, like picking candidates at a party convention or filling out petitions to get them on the ballot, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs ruled.

The decision reverberates nationally.

South Carolina’s first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary, which has been won by the party’s eventual nominee in each election since 1980, is open to any registered voter in the state, forcing candidates to moderate their message to a wider audience. The Democratic contest is also open.

“It’s a great day for independents. It’s a great day for all voters in South Carolina,” said lawyer Harry Kresky, who argued the case for IndependentVoting.org. “The primary confirms a great deal of legitimacy on a candidate.”

IndependentVoting.org. joined with the state, Tea Party members and black lawmakers in fighting the lawsuit…

Not that all is right with the world. We’re still forced to choose one primary or the other. There is no way I, who live in the most Republican county in South Carolina, where the GOP primary IS the election for most offices, should have been disenfranchised — prevented from having ANY say in local or legislative races — because I chose a Democratic ballot to vote for Vincent Sheheen last June.

But moving to the Louisiana system, as wonderful as that would be, is another battle for another day. For now, I’ll take satisfaction from the fact that the judge prevented the SC Republican Party from further eroding my right to vote for whomever I like.

13 thoughts on “God bless U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs

  1. Maggie

    I’m old enough to remember this argument around the Sunday dinner table 50 years ago. On one side was my grandfather, SC’s Attorney General. One the other, my father. My PaPa was the one arguing in favor of requiring a “loyalty oath” to vote in the Democratic primary. My Daddy — the black sheep, apostate, upstart supporter of the fledgling Republican party — argued in favor of open primaries.

    Paid political operatives and Party apparatchiks always think people are out to sabotage their best candidates. In truth, as Brad says, independent-minded citizens just want to vote for the candidate we want to get the job. We don’t think we should be forced to join “the Party” in order to vote in the election that counts.

    The Republican party might want to study its own history. There are more independent-minded voters than you may think, even in precincts that reliably go your way. If your message to independents is “Don’t vote for our candidates!” they might just say “OK!”

  2. Steve Gordy

    This should come as no surprise to anyone. Winning the Republican primary has become the “real election” in most of South Carolina (as getting the Democratic nod was for a century); if you limit public access to the primaries, it’s easier for in-groups to wield disproportionate influence in selecting nominees.

  3. Pat

    You win, Brad. I guess she’s right if they are going to use the polls. But since the repubs have let the liberterians take over, the party doesn’t resemble what I knew as republican. Give me Teddy Roosevelt any old time.
    You know, independents get to choose in the general election and that’s who the parties have to convince they’ve got it right.

  4. Rob

    Anyone who was a genuine independent “Un-Party” or whatever guy would choose not to vote in ANY party’s primary.

  5. Brad

    That is completely ridiculous, Rob. I have at least as much right to participate in choosing who my elected officials will be as the people who adhere to those ridiculous things we call parties. And those people have NO right to shut me out.

    And please, don’t give me the worn-out argument that my rights are satisfied by participation in a general election — a general election in which there are only two candidates left with any chance of being elected, and BOTH of them chosen in primaries. Primaries that you, apparently, would bar me from participating in.

    No, the true UnParty position is to demand to participate in EVERY primary, and not have to choose one or the other — much less be shut out of even choosing between them. That’s an outrageous proposition.

  6. Ralph Hightower

    I am glad that she ruled that the primary remain open. If the GOP wanted it closed, then they should’ve financed their own primary instead of depending upon the State of South Carolina.

    I am independant and want to vote for who I think is best capable to run the country. However, right now, I am not impressed with any of the non-announced Republican candidates.

  7. Rob

    Political parties ate private organizations – they are not inventions of the state. As you know, there are states where you must register with a party to vote in that party’s primary. Is this somehow disenfranchising voters? Maybe it is in your opinion, but it is not as a matter of law.

    To be a true political independent, you would have to refrain from participating in any party’s primary process. Even though we don’t register by party in SC, we call them “Republican primary voters” and “Democrat primary voters” for a reason.

    You can’t have it both ways and be intellectually honest.

  8. Nick Nielsen


    SC law requires the SC Board of Elections to administer party primaries. We, the taxpayers of SC, pay for that. If any party wants to determine who can and can not vote in that primary, they need to change the to require the parties to administer their own primaries. In the states where participation in primaries is limited to party members, the party is paying all costs for the primaries, including renting the voting machines from the state.

  9. Harvey Elwood Jr

    “Petition: best way for SC voters”
    Imagine if an individual seeking public office had to visit your home, present themselves, their platforms – and request your signature to allow their name to be placed on the ballot – before they could be considered a nominee of their party before a primary election.

    Not a new or unusual method; the fact in many states across our nation, where voters register by party affiliation that’s the way it’s done. A method that also provides ballot access for any common citizen – woman or man – seeking to run for public office.

    South Carolina law however, provides that registered voters are not required to register by party affiliation and therefore denies that option. Last week Federal U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs rejected a law-suit filed by the Greenville County and the South Carolina Republican Party, seeking to overturn the law.

    Many opinions I’ve read support the Judges decision as a victory for voter’s rights.
    Knowing a little better “I can’t agree.” Affiliation to a group or organization is the right of every person and should therefore as a right, be able to declare themselves as registered member of that group. And like American Express – “Membership Has its Privileges.”

    When the people are allowed to get involved – get behind and back a candidate the process is truly democratic as I see it. This way a person in South Carolina would be able to register in what ever party they wish – vote in that party’s primary to nominate whichever candidate they like and during the General Election vote for any candidate no matter what party, they or that person belongs.

    It’s time the people had a real opportunity to decide for themselves. The petition process would provide that.

    ■ Harvey Elwood Jr. – Living in Orangeburg – South Carolina is a semi- retired educator, served in local and state government, taught at the secondary and collegiate level and may be reached by e-mail at helwood38@hotmail.com or – 803-534-5338

  10. Brad

    Ummm, Harvey — I’m definitely not following you. Seems like you just proposed a system that provides an excellent opportunity to eliminate parties from the process altogether. And yet you seem to want to bind us even more slavishly to partisanship by having party registration — by having us be, legally, Democrats and Republicans instead of citizens.

    And that just doesn’t add up. Perhaps you do, as you say, “know better.” But in my 57 years of life, most of it spent observing politics professionally, I haven’t run across anything that supports the idea of giving parties a stronger hold on our electoral process — which party registration would certainly do.

  11. Mark Stewart

    The main thing the western states continue to stumble on is the petition process. Its like what happens when we vote on Constitutional amendments that seem to have come out of nowhere without any kind of vetting – just a knee-jerk electoral decision and a half-baked idea is set in stone.

    That we need even less than a closed primary. What we need most is an open primary process.

  12. Brad

    Oh, I agree with you entirely, Mark. Last thing we need is government by plebiscite. The Founders were right to establish a republic, rather than direct democracy.


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