In the short time available, I have reviewed the proposed legislation to establish the June 3, 2008 primary, considering primarily those issues that bear on the central question of whether this election can be conducted successfully without undue risk of legal challenges, including those challenges arising out of errors or other breakdown induced by the schedule the State has proposed.\ No one disputes that the election will have to be hurriedly prepared; and it is further accepted that it is, in material respects, unprecedented in conception and proposed structure. Michigan will be, for example, the first to state to have re-run an election in circumstances like these, to redress violations of party rules, and it will be the first to do so with the state supplying the legislative and administrative support but with private parties underwriting the costs with “soft money”. Whether the state can achieve its goals here depends on the nature and seriousness of the legal and administrative questions presented by this initiative\0x2014questions that, raised after the election, could put at risk the running of the election, undermine acceptance of the results if the election is held, and in both cases effectively deny Michigan voters, a second consecutive time, meaningful participation in the nominating process.\ For the reasons discussed briefly below, there are such questions and they are serious both in nature and in their potential, if not likely, impact on the June election proposal.\ \ …\ \ In other words, the proposal offers a re-run for the State but not for all the voters. The state will have to assert an interest sufficient to justify this infringement on the voting rights of its citizens. Its challenge will be to show how, when the state is seeking to remedy a problem of its own making — failure in the first instance to observe party rules on timing — it can somehow discriminate against groups of its own citizens. \ The State is also vulnerable to challenge under the party rules. Since any Republican or independent who did not vote in January in the Republican primary is fully free to participate in the June primary, the effect of the proposal is to enfranchise a class of Republicans while disenfranchising a class of Democrats — the ones who chose to vote in the Republican primary when they correctly understood that the Democratic contest was meaningless. A challenge along these lines would consume time, when time is not available, and it is not clear that the party would or could approve this exclusionary feature even if the participating candidates were to agree to it. The DNC would subject itself to legal action if it proceeds with approval of the plan with these terms included.\ These voting rights issues constitute a serious vulnerability in the proposed legislation and a threat to its successful enactment and implementation. \ \ …\ \ There is also a significant danger here of potential voter confusion: a voter might affirm that he or she did not participate in any other Presidential primary, by which the voter might mean the prior Democratic primary, with the result that the voter would be subject to investigation for falsely affirming what he or she believed to be true. \ The result here could be extensive litigation, embarrassment to the voters, and eventual loss of credibility for the election.\ \ …\ \ Those with the most detailed knowledge about, and the greatest responsibility for, how well the proposed election will work — the clerks who will actually be charged with administering the election — have stated that the election cannot be planned and administered within this time frame. \ \ …\ \ Since the state is acting on behalf of the party, with the expected assistance of the candidates, a creditable case may be made that all soft monies raised have been impermissibly solicited on behalf of at least the Democratic National Committee and, possibly, Senators Obama and Clinton (to the extent that their donors are encouraged or motivated to volunteer funds). It is therefore well within the realm of possibility that such a case will be made, subjecting the party and its candidates to potential liability.
Obama’s speech yesterdayRev. Jeremiah Wright
Sen. Barack Obama, damaged in the public eye by his pastor’s incendiary views on racism in America, yesterday called for a national dialogue on the sensitive topic as the Democrats’ presidential nominating race heads into a final stretch of predominantly white states.\ \ Mr. Obama disavowed the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s remarks but said he can understand blacks’ frustration with lingering racism in the country in the same way that he can identify with white families who are frustrated by job losses.\ \ “The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country — a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black, Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past,” Mr. Obama said.\ \ “But … America can change. That is the true genius of this nation.”\ \ Mr. Obama said Mr. Wright’s statements — including those in which he said “God damn America” for its history of slavery, racism and oppression against its black citizens — express “a profoundly distorted view” of the United States but that he cannot “disown” his spiritual mentor.\ \ “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” he said from Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.\ \ The speech came as several polls suggest that the Democratic front-runner’s image has suffered since Mr. Wright’s sermons have been replayed on cable television during a bitter nomination fight that has become more racially polarized in recent weeks.here
— Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times