Tonight is the big Iowa caucus. We anxiously await the results . . . how will Alan Keyes do? Kidding! But speaking of nominations, yesterday the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it refused to take up again the Virginia primary election law case. Previously, a panel of the court ruled that the part of the law where an incumbent can choose an open primary for re-nomination is unconstitutional. Its refusal to go along with Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s appeal on behalf of the State Board of Elections is a major victory for conservatives. With this decision, Virginia’s RINO incumbents can no longer autocratically choose the method of their own re-nomination under an antiquated law, and liberals can no longer vote their favorite Russ Potts types into office so they can have a majority no matter which “party” is in power. Incumbents can choose primaries still, but they must be, for all practical purposes, closed; and since Virginia does not yet have party registration, RINOs won’t have the luxury of inviting liberals into so-called Republican primaries. Not only did the state lose its indefensible position, but the court upheld its ruling that political parties have a First Amendment right of free association and, therefore, can decide who participates in its nomination process.
There was a dissenting opinion, however; and usually, dissents give an opening for an appeal. But Virginia’s RINOs, many of whom call the Virginia Senate home, and their allied liberals, won’t take any comfort in the dissent either. The dissenting judge, J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, wrote a vehement dissent saying that the entire law should be rejected.
In the upcoming General Assembly, Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) will introduce legislation requiring registration by party. He had already planned to do so before this latest appeals court decision and similar bills have failed in the past. But now, with the force of a ruling declaring the current law unconstitutional, the legislature may have no choice but to enact a common sense law guaranteeing the rights of voters to choose how to run their own political parties. Stay tuned.