Better Parties? Are they possible and how will SCOTUS shape that project?

I recently had the pleasure of talking about both of these questions with Lee Drutman on Politics in Question. As I have been spending more time talking to others about prospects for party reform–including this past week at More Parties, Better Parties Building a Stronger Democracy in America hosted by Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, the Center for Ballot Freedom, New America, Protect Democracy, and Lyceum Labs–I have been struck by how little salience the significant constraints that the Supreme Court has placed on party reformers has in these discussions. This is not true when the topic is reintroducing fusion politics where Timmons v. Twin City Area New Party (1997) is directly on point. But it has been true when conversations turn to primary reform as an alternative. This was also my experience when I served on Governor Wolf’s advisory commission on redistricting. As with primary reform, the Supreme Court’s constitutional constraints on race-conscious policymaking are nuanced, even as its implications for drawing majority-minority districts are fairly clear. And there again, many of the representatives of civic groups and experts from other disciplines were operating with inaccurate understandings of that doctrine. Fortunately, in the party reform space as Didi Kuo and I recently discussed with Daniel Stid, there are options for building better parties that do not depend on legal change and thus are not constrained by the Supreme Court. Still, it seems worth while for all of us to simplify for democracy reformers the complicated constitutional constraints within which they are operating. I do so with respect to party reform in a short forthcoming chapter Associational Rights of Political Parties. I will link to it when it is posted on SSRN.

Share this: