California Democratic Party v. Jones, Nos. 97-17440

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtFLETCHER; LEVI
Citation169 F.3d 646
Parties99 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 1627, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2175 CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY; Art Torres; Kathy Bowler; Paul Jorjorian; Peace And Freedom Party; C.T. Weber; Libertarian Party Of California; Gail Lightfoot, Plaintiffs-Appellants, and California Republican Party, Michael Schroeder; Shawn Steel; Donna Shalansky, Plaintiffs-Intervenors, v. Bill JONES, Secretary of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee, v. Californians For An Open Primary, Defendant-Intervenor- Appellee. California Democratic Party; Art Torres; Kathy Bowler; Paul Jorjorian; Peace And Freedom Party; C.T. Weber; Libertarian Party Of California; Gail Lightfoot, Plaintiffs, and California Republican Party, Michael Schroeder; Shawn Steel; Donna Shalansky, Plaintiffs-Intervenors- Appellants, v. Bill Jones, Secretary of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket Number97-17442,Nos. 97-17440
Decision Date04 March 1999

Page 646

169 F.3d 646
99 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 1627, 1999 Daily
Journal D.A.R. 2175
CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY; Art Torres; Kathy Bowler;
Paul Jorjorian; Peace And Freedom Party; C.T.
Weber; Libertarian Party Of California;
Gail Lightfoot, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
and
California Republican Party, Michael Schroeder; Shawn
Steel; Donna Shalansky, Plaintiffs-Intervenors,
v.
Bill JONES, Secretary of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee,
v.
Californians For An Open Primary, Defendant-Intervenor- Appellee.
California Democratic Party; Art Torres; Kathy Bowler;
Paul Jorjorian; Peace And Freedom Party; C.T.
Weber; Libertarian Party Of California;
Gail Lightfoot, Plaintiffs,
and
California Republican Party, Michael Schroeder; Shawn
Steel; Donna Shalansky, Plaintiffs-Intervenors- Appellants,
v.
Bill Jones, Secretary of the State of California, Defendant-Appellee.
Nos. 97-17440, 97-17442.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Oct. 7, 1998.
Decided March 4, 1999.

Page 647

George Waters, Olson, Hagel, Leidigh, Waters & Fishburn, Sacramento, California, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Cyrus J. Rickards, Deputy Attorney General, Sacramento, California, for defendant-appellee.

John E. Mueller, Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, Mill Valley, California, for intervenors-plaintiffs-appellants.

James P. Clark, Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher, Los Angeles, California, for intervenor-defendant-appellee.

James L. Baldwin, Assistant Attorney General, for Amicus, State of Alaska.

Jeffrey T. Even, Assistant Attorney General, for Amicus, State of Washington.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California; David F. Levi, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-96-02038-DFL.

Before: HUG, Chief Judge, FLETCHER and TROTT, Circuit Judges.

FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 198, which converted the State's primary election from a closed to a blanket primary in which voters may vote for any candidate regardless of the voter's or candidate's party affiliation. Appellants, the California Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom Parties, together with other individuals, opponents of Proposition 198, seek reversal of the district court's judgment upholding its constitutionality. California Democratic Party v. Jones, 984 F.Supp. 1288 (E.D.Cal.1997). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review the constitutionality of a statute de novo. Crawford v. Lungren, 96 F.3d 380, 384 (9th Cir.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1117, 117 S.Ct. 1249, 137 L.Ed.2d 330 (1997). A district court's determinations on questions of law and on mixed questions of law and fact that implicate constitutional rights are also reviewed de novo. Neal v. Shimoda, 131 F.3d 818, 823 (9th Cir.1997); Jacobsen v. United States Postal Serv., 993 F.2d 649, 653 (9th Cir.1992). We have undertaken that review.

CONCLUSION

We have reviewed the briefs to this court, the record made before the district court, and the careful, detailed, and eloquent opinion of the district court. Because we concur in it in every respect, we have elected to adopt it as the opinion of our court. We attach it as an appendix. It also may be found at 984 F.Supp. 1288 (E.D.Cal.1997) sub nom. California Democratic Party v. Jones.

Page 648

The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

ATTACHMENT

APPENDIX

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY, Art Torres, Kathy Bowler, Paul

Jorjorian, Peace and Freedom Party, C.T. Weber,

Libertarian Party of California and Gail

Lightfoot, Plaintiffs,

v.

Bill JONES, Secretary of State of the State of California,

Defendant. California Republican Party, Michael Schroeder,

Shawn Steel and Donna Shalansky, Intervenors/Plaintiffs,

Californians for an Open Primary, Intervenor/Defendant.

No. CIV. S-96-2038 DFL.

United States District Court,

E.D. California.

Nov. 17, 1997.

As Corrected Nov. 24, 1997.

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

LEVI, District Judge.

In March of 1996, the people of the State of California, by a wide margin, adopted Proposition 198, an initiative statute known as the Open Primary Act. Proposition 198 converts the State's primary election from a closed to an open or blanket primary in which voters may vote for any candidate regardless of the candidate's or the voter's party affiliation. In a blanket primary under Proposition 198, one ballot will be prepared at the primary election for all voters just as in the general election. Because a blanket primary permits voters to vote in the primary election of a party without being registered in that party, the political parties and party officials who bring this action contend that Proposition 198 violates their right of association guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The court concludes that Proposition 198 withstands this constitutional challenge.

I.

Under Proposition 198 "All persons entitled to vote, including those not affiliated with any political party, shall have the right to vote ... at any election in which they are qualified to vote, for any candidate regardless of the candidate's political affiliation." 1 By this language and the conforming amendments to the State Election Code, Proposition 198 changed the California primary from a closed to an open or blanket system. 2 As the Legislative Analyst explained in the ballot pamphlet distributed to voters before the election, under the closed system "[i]n order to vote in primary elections for partisan offices, a voter must have identified a political party affiliation when registering to vote and can vote only for candidates of that party." Defs.' Ex. A at 5. Thus, for example, in the closed primary a registered Democratic Party voter receives a ballot that includes only candidates competing for the Democratic Party nomination. Only registered Democrats could vote for these candidates, and the winner of the primary would be the Democratic Party's candidate at the general election. 3 By contrast, the Legislative Analyst

Page 649

explained, in the blanket primary instituted by Proposition 198:

[A]ll persons who are entitled to vote in primary elections, including those not affiliated with a political party [are allowed to] vote for any candidate regardless of the candidate's political party affiliation. Thus, voters in primary elections would be allowed to vote for candidates across political party lines. Furthermore, the initiative provides that county elections officials prepare only one ballot for all voters. The candidates for an office would be listed randomly on the ballot and not grouped by political party affiliation. The candidate of each political party who receives the most votes for a state elective office becomes the nominee of that party at the next general election.

Defs.' Ex. A at 5. Therefore, in the blanket primary after Proposition 198, a registered Democratic Party voter, for example, could vote for a Republican Party candidate for Governor and a Democratic Party candidate for Assembly, and so on down the ballot. An independent voter could do the same. 4 Through such cross-over voting, it is possible under the blanket primary for independent voters and voters registered in one party to participate in the primary election of another party.

In the statement of support included in the ballot pamphlet, proponents of Proposition 198 argued that the closed primary "favors the election of party hard-liners, contributes to legislative gridlock, and stacks the deck against more moderate problem-solvers." The open primary would permit voters to vote "for the best candidate for each office, regardless of party affiliation" thereby giving voters greater choice. In addition, according to proponents, the blanket primary would increase voter participation in the primary election, restore healthy competition particularly in "safe" legislative districts in which one party clearly dominates, make elected officials more responsive to voters as opposed to party officials, reduce the power of special interest groups, and strengthen the political parties by assuring the nomination of candidates with broader bases of support. Opponents of Proposition 198 contended that it would work an unconstitutional interference with the right of the parties to choose their nominees: "Allowing members of one party a large voice in choosing another party's nominee--which Proposition 198 would do--is like letting UCLA's football team choose USC's head coach!" 5 According to the opponents, the existing closed primary provided a "real choice" among candidates of different parties while a blanket primary would be "an invitation to political mischief" by special interests and political consultants. Defs.' Ex. A at 6-7. 6

At the election, Proposition 198 was adopted by a convincing margin of those voting--59.51 percent (3,340,642 votes) to 40.49 percent (2,273,064 votes). According to reliable exit polls, Proposition 198 was supported by 61 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of Republicans, and 69 percent of Independents. The measure was supported by a majority of every demographic subgroup, including groupings by sex, age, race, education, political ideology, income, religion and party identification. Defs.' Exs. B & D. Proposition 198 commanded majorities in every county in California and in 75 of the 80 Assembly districts. Defs.' Ex. I. Although the turnout by California's six minor parties was too small to sample, given the broad public support for Proposition 198 among all groups of every sort, it is likely that a majority of the members of these parties also favored the initiative. R.T. at 847 (Testimony

Page 650

of Thomas Quinn). Moreover, the vote on Proposition 198 reflects the long-standing support for an open primary among California voters. According to Mervin Field, an eminent California political polling expert, Californians have favored an...

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  • Montana Right to Life Ass'n v. Eddleman, No. 00-35924.
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 24, 2002
    ...this ruling. II. Standard of Review We review the constitutionality of state statutes de novo. California Democratic Party v. Jones, 169 F.3d 646, 647 (9th Cir.1999), rev'd on other grounds, 530 U.S. 567, 120 S.Ct. 2402, 147 L.Ed.2d 502 (2000). We review the district court's findings of fac......
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12 cases
  • Democratic Party of Haw. v. Nago, Civil No. 13–00301 JMS–KSC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • November 14, 2013
    ...and conclusions of law after four days of testimony, see Cal. Democratic Party v. Jones, 984 F.Supp. 1288, 1292–93 (E.D.Cal.1997), aff'd169 F.3d 646 (9th Cir.1999), rev'd,530 U.S. 567, 120 S.Ct. 2402, 147 L.Ed.2d 502 (2000), and relied on this well-developed factual record at all stages of ......
  • Montana Right to Life Ass'n v. Eddleman, No. 00-35924.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 11, 2003
    ...this ruling. II. Standard of Review We review the constitutionality of state statutes de novo. California Democratic Party v. Jones, 169 F.3d 646, 647 (9th Cir.1999), rev'd on other grounds, 530 U.S. 567, 120 S.Ct. 2402, 147 L.Ed.2d 502 (2000); Arizona Right to Life Political Action Comm. v......
  • California Democratic Party v Jones, 99401
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2000
    ...and protecting privacy-is a compelling interest justifying California's intrusion into the parties' associational rights. Pp. 14-18. 169 F.3d 646, reversed. Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Breyer, JJ., joi......
  • Montana Right to Life Ass'n v. Eddleman, No. 00-35924.
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 24, 2002
    ...this ruling. II. Standard of Review We review the constitutionality of state statutes de novo. California Democratic Party v. Jones, 169 F.3d 646, 647 (9th Cir.1999), rev'd on other grounds, 530 U.S. 567, 120 S.Ct. 2402, 147 L.Ed.2d 502 (2000). We review the district court's findings of fac......
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