Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties

By David K. Ryden | Go to book overview
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their "external responsibilities in ensuring the order and fairness of elections." 98

In its totality, however, Marshall's opinion belies the enthusiastic prognostications of a judicial embrace of the parties. It echoes the persistent theme of these cases. When the Court rules on parties' behalf, it acts more out of a nebulous, imprecise sense of fairness than from a theoretical or functional defense of the parties. 99 Its acceptance of party rights is almost unpremeditated and inadvertent. These decisions reveal little evidence of a Court consciously aware of the uniqueness of party functions. While they generally reflect a corporate dimension, the treatment of and effect on parties is virtually incidental to a broader devotion to individualistic rights of association. 100 These cases cast further doubt upon the Court's capacity to constitutionally protect and facilitate the functions that only the parties can perform.


The constitutional unevenness in the realm of voter and candidate access suggests a fertile field in which to sow pro-party arguments. This is especially true in light of the contradictory signals emanating from the most recent judicial comment on ballot access. Burdick v. Takushi101 reflected a modest retreat from the highly individualistic approach to association and an awakening to group considerations in individual voting rights.

In Burdick, the Court denied a voter's challenge to a Hawaii state law that prohibited write-in voting. In ratifying the restrictions, the Court made it clear that individual voting rights are not absolute, 102 but can be regulated to ensure fair, honest, and orderly elections. The Court noted the state interests favoring strong, stable parties. The interdiction against write-in voting was warranted by the interest in "avoiding unrestrained factionalism." 103 It sought to reserve the ballot for major struggles rather than intraparty squabbles, and to avert divisive "sore loser" candidacies. 104 The Court also noted the interest in guarding against party raiding, when voters switch parties in an effort to manipulate the other party's primary results. 105 The Court's appreciation of these justifications marked a relatively cordial reception for an election system premised upon parties.

More importantly, the Court described the electoral objectives in a way that accentuated the rudimentary role of parties, though it never explicitly made that connection. It identified


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Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties


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