#MAGOP14 Thoughts: the Fisher Lawsuit

Breaking this morning: Gubernatorial hopeful Mark Fisher is meeting with lawyers to discuss suing the party over Saturday’s vote.

From a legal perspective, it’s a non-starter: courts are (thankfully) very loathe to interfere with the judgement of state political parties.  Just for a moment imagine the reverse, wherein a Democrat-appointed judge would be the arbiter of what happens at a Republican convention, or vice-versa.

Moreover, the issue itself is murky: Fisher needed to get 15% of the vote.  If delegates who cast a blank ballot are counted, then Fisher received less than 14.8% of the vote; if they are not counted, then Fisher received 15.1% of the vote.  Mass GOP Convention rules state do not list blank ballots as disqualified ballots (Sec. 17); however, parliamentary authority for “any and all matters not covered by these Rules” is governed by Robert’s Rules of Order (Sec. 24).  In regards to votes requiring a majority or 2/3ds vote of those present, Robert’s Rules states that blank ballots do not count towards the majority requirement (e.g. if 15 people are present and four cast blank ballots, only six votes are needed for a majority).  However, Robert’s Rules is silent on the situation presented before the MA GOP.  It would seem, then, that any ballot not disqualified under Sec. 17 would be permitted.

As such, and given the deference given to the Party’s interpretation of its rules, it is hard to understand what legal basis Fisher has for his lawsuit.  The remarks by his campaign manager, Debbie McCarthy, are telling:

McCarthy said the Fisher campaign was mulling “a civil suit in order to get e-mails, text messages, and phone records to prove collusion [between Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Republican party].”

In a two-way race, this guy couldn’t get more than 15% of delegates in attendance to vote for him, so he’s suing in order to go on a fishing expedition through the Charlie Baker team emails and communications.

Stay classy, Mark.


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