A federal judge has turned back an effort led by independent voters to scrap New Jersey’s system for choosing its political candidates through primaries. U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Chesler, in a decision issued Friday, upheld the current system, which limits participation in primaries to registered voters of a particular party. In a lawsuit filed in March, two independent voter groups joined seven New Jersey residents in urging Chesler to end a system that they said prevents nearly half of the state’s 2.6 million registered voters — affiliated with neither the Republican nor Democratic parties — from participating in primaries.
Chesler’s decision leaned heavily on U.S. Supreme Court rulings dating back decades, which have repeatedly guaranteed the First Amendment right of political parties to govern their affairs.
“Plaintiffs base their federal case on what they believe is their unfettered right to participate in the process that New Jersey has established for its major political parties to choose their general election candidates,” Chesler wrote.