Last year, the Montana Republican Party filed a lawsuit against state law that requires the party to nominate candidates for public office in an open primary. On December 14, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled that the lawsuit can’t be decided without more evidence. The Republican Party already provided evidence that in open primaries in other states, a certain percentage of voters who are not loyal to the Republican Party nevertheless choose to vote in Republican primaries.
The ruling, which is 37 pages long and has a comprehensive history of other lawsuits on the issue of primaries, says the case needs evidence from Montana. In order to win the case, the Montana Republican Party will now need to find evidence that votes who don’t really like the Republican Party still choose to vote in Republican primaries.
In Montana, the voter registration form doesn’t ask about party membership, and it isn’t easy for anyone on either side of this lawsuit to define what a Republican is. The state argues that if a person requests a Republican primary ballot, by definition the person is a Republican. Thanks to Rick Hasen for news about the decision.