A federal judge has dismissed a case brought forward by Bernie Sanders supporters last year, ruling that despite the harm voters claim to have experienced during the 2016 Democratic primary, there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case in court.
The suit, filed in June 2016 by Jared and Elizabeth Lee Beck on behalf of supporters of Bernie Sanders, accuses the Democratic National Committee of fraud during the primary election. Specifically, the suit alleges the committee worked to rig the primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton in violation of its own rules.
They also say the DNC worked with their donors and others to manipulate the primaries, much to the chagrin of voters who say they donated to Sanders with the expectation that the process was going to be fair. Concerns were also raised about whether voter information stored on the committee’s computers was secure, given that they were infiltrated by hackers.
District Judge William Zloch didn’t agree that the evidence was there to prove the claims. In his 28-page dismissal, he asserts that if voters demand justice for their ‘general grievances’ with the DNC, they should seek it by other means and not bother the courts.
“To the extent Plaintiffs wish to air their general grievances with the DNC or its candidate selection process,” Zloch writes, “their redress is through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary.”
That’s because the plaintiffs did not do enough to prove their donations were connected to the neutrality of the DNC’s rules, Zloch said, and therefore can’t claim fraud. Also, the reach and harm claimed in the class action filing was deemed to be too abstract and not concrete enough.
“Federal Courts cannot exercise jurisdiction over cases where the parties lack standing,” he said. “The Court must dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”
Zloch’s decision is bound to stun Sanders supporters given what was reported during the primaries. Rhode Island keeping polling places closed, false accounts of violence by progressives in Arizona, an alarming caucus process in Nevada, Donna Brazile passing debate questions to Clinton, and of course, what was revealed in the DNC emails.
Well before this ruling, on April 29th, 2017, the attorney for the DNC, Bruce Spiva, almost in blatant defiance of the DNC’s own rules, said that while committee officials reserve the right to screw over anyone they deemed necessary, he wants you to know they didn’t:
“We could have—and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way. That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right.”
Statements like those made by attorney Spiva seemed to confirm for many Sanders supporters what they’d suspected all along.
The judge did include this hand-slap to the DNC, which may do little to placate supporters of this lawsuit:
“For their part, the DNC and Wasserman Schultz have characterized the DNC charter’s promise of “impartiality and evenhandedness” as a mere political promise——political rhetoric that is not enforceable in federal courts. The Court does not accept this trivialization of the DNC’s governing principles. While it may be true in the abstract that the DNC has the right to have its delegates “go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way,” DE 54, at 36:22-24, the DNC, through its charter, has committed itself to a higher principle.“
Judge Zloch ended the Order of Dismissal by saying:
“Plaintiffs do not allege a causal link between their donations and the DNC’s statements, they lack standing to assert the fraud-type claims in Counts I, II, III, and IV of the First Amended Complaint (DE 8). Their breach of fiduciary duty claim in Count V relies on a harm far too diffuse to constitute an injury-in-fact in federal court. And their negligence claim in Count VI is buffered by too many layers of speculation and conjecture to create the immediacy of harm necessary to unlock this Court’s jurisdiction. That being so, Plaintiffs have not “present[ed] a live case or controversy,” and the Court “must dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”
No word yet on what happens with the case from here, but many Americans are left wondering, what of free and fair elections?
This story will be updated as we learn more.
UPDATE 8/28/17: Jared Beck had this to say about the future of the case:
“In the next days, Elizabeth Lee Beck and I will be conferring with our co-counsel on the next steps in the #DNCFraudLawsuit. Anyone who tells you otherwise, or that we have said the case is “dead,” is straight-up lying to you.”
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