On December 6, U.S. District Court Magistrate Mary Pat Thynge, a Bush Sr. appointee, struck down a Delaware state constitutional provision that says, “Three of the five Justices of the Supreme Court shall be of one major political party, and two of said Justices shall be of the other major political party.” Also struck down was a similar provision relating to Judges of the Superior Court. Adams v Carney, 1:17cv-181.
Here is the 14-page decision. It is based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have struck down laws that let states make hiring and firing decisions for government employees based on that employee’s party affiliation. Those past U.S. Supreme Court opinions do not apply to policy-making jobs, but the decision in Adams v Carney says judges aren’t policy-makers.
Delaware defines “major party” to be a group with registration membership of at least 5% of the state total. No party other then the Democratic and Republican Parties has ever been a “major party” in Delaware, in the entire history of the government-printed ballot.
The state tried to defend its law by arguing that the plaintiff, a registered independent, didn’t have standing because he wasn’t likely to be appointed to a Delaware judicial post anyway. The state also attacked him because he changed his registration from “Democrat” to “independent” just the day before he filed the lawsuit. The plaintiff said he left the Democratic Party because it is not progressive enough. Thanks to Michael Drucker for news about this decision.