Thank you, Attorneys Gruber, Hardy and Kresky for this critically important and thorough review of voting rights and the status of unaffiliated voters. In leading the often disheartening, decades-long effort to open Pennsylvania’s Primaries, I found this article very helpful and inspiring. The concluding remarks are particularly heartening. You point to non-election cases to make the argument that times are changing, the electorate is changing, and unaffiliated voters have a fundamental constitutional right to full participation in our elections.
You point to Obergefell v. Hodges, where same sex marriages were deemed constitutionally protected, to highlight that courts need to consider the broad principals of our constitution and, while respecting history, not be bound to it.
You then reference Plessy v. Ferguson by stating that
This Article has, we hope, demonstrated that in the field of voting the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Segregating unaffiliated voters, preventing them from meaningful participation in the primaries, is inherently unequal and deprives them of what is due them under the Constitution.
Finally, you conclude eloquently
The authors submit that the legal status of unaffiliated voters must be engaged by our courts if we are to be true to the best traditions of American justice. Unaffiliated voters are treated as second class citizens. This Article has, we hope, demonstrated that the right of unaffiliated voters to vote, and to vote in what are now closed primaries, is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person and her rights to freedom of speech and association under the First Amendment, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Jennifer Bullock is the Director of Independent Pennsylvanians and a social therapist in Philadelphia. She serves on Independent Voting’s Eyes on 2020 Cabinet.