Unconstitutional for Washington to Require Political Parties to Elect Legislative District Chairs

In King County, Washington, the Republican Central Committee had a longstanding practice of appointing (rather than electing) its chairs in each legislative district. Andrew Pilloud, a former Republican candidate for state representative in Seattle, challenged the constitutionality of that practicing.  He argued that state law requires the district chairs for political parties to be elected, not appointed.

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A unanimous Washington Supreme Court disagreed with Pilloud.  It said that the law requiring election of district chairs violates political parties’ First Amendment right to freedom of association.  The court found that there was no compelling reason to interfere with the parties’ self-governance by requiring elections.  Pilloud pointed to several state interests he believed were compelling—fair and orderly elections, enforcing campaign contribution limits —but the court did not agree.

Case: Pilloud v. King Cty. Republican Cent. Comm., No. 93786-9 (Wash. Nov. 9, 2017) (opinion here)

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