One of the strongest objections to the Clinton candidacy is that it represents an unhealthy continuation of politics as usual. Clinton's supporters in Nevada exhibit this in their recently filed lawsuit in which they attempt to destroy a voting procedure they helped create once it becomes apparent that it won't help Clinton. In a process worked on since March, the Democratic party designed a number of at-large caucus locations on the Las Vegas Strip.
A lawsuit filed late Friday in federal court seeks to stop the Democratic Party from holding caucus meetings at nine Strip hotels, which would diminish the influence of casino workers and hamper Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.
The complaint, with the state teachers union and some party activists as plaintiffs, came as Obama accepted the endorsement of the Culinary Union. The timing seemed designed to cloud the good buzz from his campaign, which could only help Sen. Hillary Clinton’s efforts in the state.
The lawsuit claims that those voting in at-large precincts being held on the Strip would have too much weight compared with those voting at their polling places, violating the equal protection law of the U.S. Constitution. It also claims the at-large precincts violate state statute in the way they were drawn.
State Democratic Party officials disputed the lawsuit’s contentions.
“This has been a fully transparent process,” party spokeswoman Kirsten Searer said. “These rules have been approved by the Democratic National Committee and the campaigns have been fully informed throughout this process, which started in May.”
The party decided to set up polling places at the nine casinos to accommodate those working on the Strip.
But Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, noted that janitors who have to open schools in which caucus meetings take place will be unable to participate if that is not their polling place.
“Why are extraordinary accommodations being made for people on Strip but not the other workers?” she said.
She acknowledged that she did not approach the state party about the problem.
“We’re approaching them now,” she said.
The Nevada State Education Association has not endorsed any candidate, Warne said.
The other plaintiffs are Dwayne Chesnut, John Cahill, Vicky and John Birkland, and Patricia Montgomery.
Some of them were active backers of Sen. Dina Titus’ 2006 bid for governor. Titus, of Las Vegas, has endorsed Clinton.
Mark Ferrario, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, would not comment on how he got the clients, other than to say they care about the fairness of the caucus process.
The institutional plaintiff is the Nevada State Education Association. It has committed to not formally endorse any candidate, but its high level members have endorsed Clinton. The NSEA's deputy executive director--Debbie Cahill--formed Clinton's Nevada Women’s Leadership Council. Her husband, John Cahill is an individual plaintiff in the suit.
The rules for the at-large locations were agreed to unanimously by the delegates to the Nevada Democratic Party on 3/31/2007. Four of the six named plaintiffs (Vicki Birkland, John Birkland, Dwayne Chesnut and John Cahill) attended that meeting and voted for the plan. The suit was filed only two days after the Culinary Union endorsed Obama.
The campaign's official response can be found here: