Everyone’s attention is focused on the general elections coming up a week from Tuesday, but in at least one state there was a primary which wasn’t quite officially over until this week. Down in Mississippi, it appears that Chris McDaniel’s rather quixotic battle to overturn the primary win of Thad Cochran may have finally come to an end.
The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of Chris McDaniel’s lawsuit over his June GOP primary loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.
The court ruled four to two, upholding a lower court decision that McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge of his loss. Three justices did not participate.
McDaniel in statement said, “Republicans are still left wanting justice” by the decision and said he hopes “conservatives in Mississippi will view this decision as a driving factor to get involved in Republican politics.”
Attorney Doug Mataconis wasn’t surprised.
[A]lthough McDaniel is talking about an appeal, this is basically the end of the road for him. An appeal from the Mississippi Supreme Court would go to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that body is highly unlikely to get involved in this dispute in any manner whether that means imposing some kind of stay to stop the election on November 4th or to accept an appeal. This is especially true given the fact that the lawsuit filed by McDaniel raises matters that are purely governed by state law, and the Justices don’t have jurisdiction over such cases unless there is some credible Federal Law issue involved that doesn’t exist here. Potentially, I suppose, McDaniel could try to seek relief in Federal Court if his legal team can come up with a legal basis for such an action, but again a U.S. District Court is unlikely to entertain such a lawsuit and even less likely to impose any kind of stay on an election that Cochran will win rather easily.
The point Doug is making seems to be the one which was agreed upon by the three justices writing the majority opinion in the 3-1-2 decision. However, there seems to also be a persuasive argument made by the one justice writing the concurring opinion described by Rick Hasan. The judge wrote that the decision was a nonjusticiable political question to be decided by the political branches rather than the courts. This actually seems as though it removes it even another level beyond the reach of the federal courts. The states have control over their own elections to begin with, but the primaries are really functions of the parties who organize them. (Of course, this would be a lot clearer in Mississippi if they actually asked people to register by party as many other states do, but that’s a separate question.)
No word yet if there is still a chance that McDaniel will try to push this to the Supreme Court of the United States, but it doesn’t sound like they would agree to hear it even if that were the case. I think this particular slice of election bread is officially toast.