Judge orders Sanders, others to be reinstated on New York primary ballot
A federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring New York to hold its presidential primary in June and restore Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other former presidential contenders to the ballot.
The ruling from Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York, an Obama appointee, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) decision to scrap his state’s primary violated the First and 14th Amendment rights of White House contenders who have since ended their campaigns.
“The Court concludes that Plaintiffs and Plaintiff-Intervenors have shown a clear and substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the Democratic Commissioners’ April 27 Resolution removing Yang, Sanders, and eight other Democratic presidential candidates from the ballot deprived them of associational rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution,” Torres ruled, referring to entrepreneur Andrew Yang, another former presidential candidate who filed the lawsuit against New York.
Cuomo first announced in April that he was canceling New York’s presidential primary after Sanders dropped out of the race and essentially locked up Biden’s claim to the Democratic nomination. Still, Sanders had declared that he planned to remain on upcoming primary ballots to win more delegates, who can work to influence the party’s platform at this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
“We shouldn’t have nonessential primaries. There is only one candidate who is running,” New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said at the time.
Cuomo’s decision was met with an outcry from progressives who said the move would block them from promoting their candidate and hinder efforts to bridge divides between centrists and liberals within the party that continue to play out from 2016.
“Senator Sanders wishes to remain on the ballot, and is concerned that his removal from the ballot would undermine efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of the general election,” Malcolm Seymour, an attorney representing the Sanders campaign, wrote at the time to Andrew Spano, the commissioner for the New York State Board of Elections.
Torres wrote Tuesday that she agreed with progressives’ concerns, arguing that the cancellation could disenfranchise New York voters.
“The removal of presidential contenders from the primary ballot not only deprived those candidates of the chance to garner votes for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but also deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform, vote on party governance issues, pressure the eventual nominee on matters of personnel or policy, and react to unexpected developments at the Convention,” she wrote.
“And it deprived Democratic voters of the opportunity to elect delegates who could push their point of view in that forum,” she added.
Despite New York’s ruling and his position as the presumptive nominee, Biden appeared to be aware of concerns that depriving Sanders of the chance to rack up more delegates could spark a progressive backlash. Biden and Sanders last week announced a deal that would allow the Vermont lawmaker to keep hundreds of delegates he’d won during the primary race.
“While Senator Sanders is no longer actively seeking the nomination, the Biden campaign feels strongly that it is in the best interest of the party and the effort to defeat Donald Trump in November to come to an agreement regarding these issues that will ensure representation of Sanders supporters and delegate candidates, both on the floor and in committees,” the Biden and Sanders campaigns said in a memo.