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First Amendment

Freedom of association

University of Michigan Law School

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

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The Political Party System As A Public Forum: The Incoherence Of Parties As Free Speech Associations And A Proposed Correction, Wayne Batchis Jan 2019

The Political Party System As A Public Forum: The Incoherence Of Parties As Free Speech Associations And A Proposed Correction, Wayne Batchis

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence addressing the associational rights of political parties is both highly consequential and deeply inconsistent. It dates back at least as far as the Court’s White Primary decisions more than a half-century ago. In recent decades, the Court has imposed an arguably ad hoc formula, striking down regulations on political parties on First Amendment grounds in some cases, while upholding them in others. From a jurisprudential perspective, critics might point to insufficiently principled distinctions between these cases. From a normative perspective, the very expansion of First Amendment rights to political parties, like the parallel extension to corporations …