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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Democrats From Florida File Suit Against The Democratic National Committee

The Democratic National Committee voted last summer to strip all of Florida's delegates from being seated at the August Democratic Convention, which will be held in Denver Colorado, after Florida moved their primaries forward which was against the DNC rules.

Previously the rules stated that the penalty for moving the primary to Jan. 29, 2008, would be to strip half of the delegates, but last summer the rules committee met and voted for harsher penalties, which included stripping all of the delegates, in an attempt to force Florida to not hold the early primaries.

Florida held them anyway and since then there has been a publicly fought battle regarding what to do about those Florida votes and making them count.

The DNC already has a meeting scheduled for May 31, 2008 before the Rules and Bylaws Committee, to straighten the mess out and Hillary Clinton has been publicly pushing for the Florida (and Michigan, for the same reason) delegates be seated and declaring she would take this fight all the way to the Convention if it does not get resolved.

Today reports are out that Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, along with two other Democrats, have filed a suit in Florida to force the DNC to seat the delegates, claiming that stripping Florida of those delegates is in violation of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits any national party from stripping a state's delegates.

According the federal lawsuit, Geller's argument is that, "Florida's history of discrimination against African Americans should force the national Democratic Party to count all of the state's delegates at its national convention."

The Civil Rights-era law requires the U.S. Justice Department to approve any significant voting change in Florida to make sure it doesn't disenfranchise minority voters. Geller argues that includes the Democratic National Committee's demand that Florida switch ''from a state-run primary to party-run caucus system'' to avoid losing its delegates.

''The purpose of this lawsuit is not to support one candidate over another; it's to enforce one of the most basic tenets of our democracy: Count the votes as they were cast,'' Geller said in announcing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by Geller's law firm, Greenspoon Marder, Miami lawyer Ben Kuehne and Dan Stengle of Hopping Green & Sams in Tallahassee and it asserts that the DNC is in violation of "constitutional protection on equal application of the law and a federal law that requires parties to write their own rules and then follow them."

Although seating Florida's delegates would help Hillary Clinton because she won the majority of the vote in Florida's primary, the lawsuit was filed by not only by Geller who is an uncommitted super-delegate, but by Barbara Effman who is a Florida delegate for Hillary Clinton and by Percy Johnson who is a Florida delegate for Barack Obama.

This is not the first time that legal action has been taken against the DNC in regards to this issue. Back in 10/2007, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) announced that they were suing the DNC and the chiarman of the DNC, Howard Dean, for declaratory relief injunction to prevent the party from going through with penalizing Florida by stripping all the delegates.

They also said that the DNC was disenfranchising voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by stripping the state of it's delegates.