LNC Loses Judicial Committee Appeal about Oregon

From George Phillies in IPR Comments:

The Libertarian Party National Judicial Committee has responded to the request by the Oregon State Party for clarification of their ruling on Oregon.

The Judicial Committee rules the LP of Oregon does have a leadership, headed by Wes Wagner, i.e., Mark Hinkle’s claim that LP Oregon has no leadership is totally wrong.

The Judicial Committee reminded the LNC that it has no authority to intervene in a state party’s internal affairs.

The Judicial Committee directed that so long as the Oregon State Party has not been disaffiliated, the LNC is required to supply the LP ORegon with datadumps and recognition as the official party affiliate in Oregon.

See previous reports here and here.The second link has links to even earlier reports.

UPDATE: The text of the decision, from Judicial Committee member Lee Wrights in IPR comments:

We have been asked by Mr. Wes Wagner to clarify our decision in Wagner v. LNC, given the apparent decision of Libertarian National Committee Chair Mark Hinkle to suspend treatment by the LNC of the Wagner group of officers as the representatives of the Libertarian Party of Oregon, on a par with other state affiliates of the national Libertarian Party.

The Judicial Committee did not rule that the LPO has no leadership. The Judicial Committee ruled that the LNC must by default recognize the affiliate representatives that are currently recognized by the affiliate’s secretary of state, and that it would take an exercise of LNC’s 6.6 disaffiliation power to do otherwise.

A state political party committee (no matter the party) is defined by its governing documents, as interpreted under the laws of the State where it is organized and operates. The Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party grant the Libertarian National Committee the power to affiliate and disaffiliate a state-level affiliate in each state of the United States. They do not grant the LNC (or the LP Judicial Committee) the power to interpret and then enforce the bylaws of a state political party committee that is a state-level affiliate of the national Libertarian Party. To the contrary, Article 6, Section 5, of the LP Bylaws expressly prohibits the LNC from “abridg[ing]” the “autonomy” of its state affiliates, “except as expressly provided by [the LP] Bylaws.” The interpretation of a state-level affiliate’s bylaws is an internal matter for the members of the state-level affiliate to pursue by negotiation, political action, litigation and/or other action in state-level affiliate meetings, and before the state-level judicial committee (if any), courts and governmental agencies having jurisdiction over the state-level affiliate.

This means that if the LNC desires to ‘abridge the autonomy’ of the LPO by ceasing to treat the Wagner group of LPO officers as its state affiliate contact in Oregon, its avenue to do so is as “expressly provided by [the LP] Bylaws”, i.e., to take formal action to disaffiliate, for cause, by a 3/4ths vote, as more specifically provided in Article 6, Section 6, of the Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party. Until such time as that occurs, the LNC must continue to treat the Wagner group of LPO officers similar to other LP state-level affiliate officers (for example, by providing monthly data dumps, and recognition on the lp.org website as the official LP state affiliate in Oregon).”

35 thoughts on “LNC Loses Judicial Committee Appeal about Oregon

  1. Michael H. Wilson

    Chuck no disrespect intended, but I hope they don’t follow it. This internal bickering has to come to a halt! Let the people in Oregon work this issue out and stay out of it.

    There are a lot of things this LNC needs to do to build the party that are being ignored.

  2. George Phillies

    If the LNC disaffiliates Oregon without following their own Bylaws, there will be an appeal, that the LNC will likely lose.

    If the LNC disaffiliates Oregon while following the procedure in their bylaws, there will probably an appeal based on “cause” — the requirement ‘for cause’ has certain implications, and at this point a substantive cause that does not involve the LNC interfering in the autonomy of a state affiliate seems not to have been specified.

    Cause? As hypotheticals: Their officers are Regular Republican donors, and one is a Republican Town Committeeman.

    The Platform Committee Chair propagandizes for Republican far-right gay bashing, and their State Chair is urging Libertarians to work for the Presidential Campaign of a Republican Christian Dominionist.

    The new State Platform was plagiarized from the platform of the Revolutionary Socialists, down to their support of the Second Amendment.

  3. George Phillies

    If the LNC does not try to disaffiliate Oregon, sanity might prevail.

    If an LNC faction tries to disaffiliate Oregon and loses the vote, expect to hear about it from now to the next National Convention.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    3 gp, on your hypothetical, how can a DISaffiliation be a cause? The Wagner faction has no Rs, does it? Affiliating the Reeves faction might be, I s’pose, if they are indeed Rs.

  5. George Phillies

    @5

    The appeal would hypothetically be based on the assertion that the bylaws require ’cause’ for disaffiliation, and the disaffiliation motion neglected to cite a legitimate cause.

  6. George Phillies

    Yesterday, the LNC was told by the Judicial Committee it had to treat its Oregon affiliate the same as it treats its other affiliates.

    Today, the LNC is not yet in compliance.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    6 & 7 gp, OK, well, if the bylaws require citation of a “cause,” then it seems appropriate to cite one. That seems to be a separate question from whether the LNC would recognize another leadership group in the affiliation process.

    If the LNC is in fact disregarding a direct order from the JudCom, that does seem to create an institutional showdown/stalemate. I wonder if it’s reasonable to expect immediate compliance and what happens if the LNC refuses to comply?

    As The World Turns has nothing on this collective! 😉

  8. R. Lee Wrights

    Re: #9 Here is the text of the JC clarification:

    We have been asked by Mr. Wes Wagner to clarify our decision in Wagner v. LNC, given the apparent decision of Libertarian National Committee Chair Mark Hinkle to suspend treatment by the LNC of the Wagner group of officers as the representatives of the Libertarian Party of Oregon, on a par with other state affiliates of the national Libertarian Party.

    The Judicial Committee did not rule that the LPO has no leadership. The Judicial Committee ruled that the LNC must by default recognize the affiliate representatives that are currently recognized by the affiliate’s secretary of state, and that it would take an exercise of LNC’s 6.6 disaffiliation power to do otherwise.

    A state political party committee (no matter the party) is defined by its governing documents, as interpreted under the laws of the State where it is organized and operates. The Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party grant the Libertarian National Committee the power to affiliate and disaffiliate a state-level affiliate in each state of the United States. They do not grant the LNC (or the LP Judicial Committee) the power to interpret and then enforce the bylaws of a state political party committee that is a state-level affiliate of the national Libertarian Party. To the contrary, Article 6, Section 5, of the LP Bylaws expressly prohibits the LNC from “abridg[ing]” the “autonomy” of its state affiliates, “except as expressly provided by [the LP] Bylaws.” The interpretation of a state-level affiliate’s bylaws is an internal matter for the members of the state-level affiliate to pursue by negotiation, political action, litigation and/or other action in state-level affiliate meetings, and before the state-level judicial committee (if any), courts and governmental agencies having jurisdiction over the state-level affiliate.

    This means that if the LNC desires to ‘abridge the autonomy’ of the LPO by ceasing to treat the Wagner group of LPO officers as its state affiliate contact in Oregon, its avenue to do so is as “expressly provided by [the LP] Bylaws”, i.e., to take formal action to disaffiliate, for cause, by a 3/4ths vote, as more specifically provided in Article 6, Section 6, of the Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party. Until such time as that occurs, the LNC must continue to treat the Wagner group of LPO officers similar to other LP state-level affiliate officers (for example, by providing monthly data dumps, and recognition on the lp.org website as the official LP state affiliate in Oregon).”

  9. paulie Post author

    Yesterday, the LNC was told by the Judicial Committee it had to treat its Oregon affiliate the same as it treats its other affiliates.

    Today, the LNC is not yet in compliance.

    Let’s say that this is not just a matter of taking time to comply.

    If the LNC just ignores the JC, is there something the JC can do about it?

    If not, would LPO’s next stop be government courts?

  10. Mike Seebeck

    The JC’s clarification is expected and perfectly sound. The Wagner faction was always on the correct ground, and the LNC majority was too dense to realize it. In some ways they still are.

    Therefore, the LNC’s lack of action is also expected.

    If the LNC continues to defy the JC’s ruling and instructions, then the LNC is also in violation of the Bylaws. However, it is the LNC who can boot someone from the LP for violating the Bylaws, and we certainly cannot expect the LNC to boot themselves off–most of the members there lack the ethos and sense of Justice to do that or simply resign for failure to execute their offices properly. The best that can happen is that the regional reps are recalled by their regions for their actions on this, or lack thereof, but even that may not be enough votes to remove the convention-elected offenders until the convention itself.

    So, it basically will be a stalemate until the national convention, at which point it is likely that it will be raised from the floor, likely either before the Presidential nominations (depending on who is actually running, and yes, I mean Root) or before the LNC elections, and that will become a major issue of that election. We can hope that if that happens the membership will see sense and toss out the problem-children off the LNC and install adult leadership that is properly concerned about growing and publicizing the LP rather than kicking their unfavored adversaries out of the sandbox.

    But don’t get your hopes up for that. The majority LNC faction has been trying to stack the convention deck in their favor, as LPNV and LPOR have shown.

    The next battle will be over the convention floor fee. Again. After they lost that battle last time. We all know who won that one.

    The smart way out for the LNC is to properly concede defeat, do their jobs correctly in terms of LPOR, and simply focus on what they are supposed to be doing–publicizing and growing the LP. Sometimes it’s better to admit defeat and move on rather than keep fighting.

    But don’t get your hopes up for that to happen, either. The players leading this charge for the Reeves faction aren’t bright enough to stop when they lose. If they were, they would have stopped after they were shown up over Keaton, or Wrights. yet here we are. (We all know who won those fights as well!)

  11. Jill Pyeatt

    I hope the LNC is aware how closely many Libertarians are watching this unbelievable drama. It really is possible that many of those involved in what many perceive to be the wrong side of this issue will abruptly find themselves NOT part of the LNC come the next convention.

  12. George Phillies

    I have confirmed from several sources that the internal response of the LNC to this outcome has been total silence.

    It is not obvious to me why our affiliate, the LP of Oregon, would sit around and do nothing for 2/3 of a year, waiting for NatCon. Of course, they will be nominating someone to run for Congress to fill the Wu vacancy.

    Attempting to organize the state chairs in Oregon’s region to remove their regional Representative, Mr. Karlan, comes to mind as an action.

    They have several other options. For example, they might appeal again to the Judicial Committee, asking the Judicial Committee to rule that the action of the National Chair constituted force and fraud, that therefore he had substantively revoked his national party membership, and therefore that he was no longer National Chair. Any actions the LNC then took that revolved around his being chair, for example accepting his ruling that a motion had been passed, might then lead to member litigation that might or might not be covered by the LNC’s Director and Officer Insurance.

    Alternatively, Oregon might try to organize a special national convention.

    Finally, based on history of Oregon events, Oregon might attempt to persuade members to send their money to state and local groups and real candidates, and in particular to send no money to the LNC so long as it was under its present leadership. My Oregon contacts who were not involved in the current matter tell me that this finally worked effectively against the former Oregon leadership.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    GP @ 16,

    “For example, they might appeal again to the Judicial Committee, asking the Judicial Committee to rule that the action of the National Chair constituted force and fraud, that therefore he had substantively revoked his national party membership, and therefore that he was no longer National Chair.”

    That would require an unreasonably broad reading of the Judicial Committee’s mandate.

    The Judicial Committee is not empowered to remove members. It’s only empowered to reverse (or affirm) LNC actions.

    The answer to the LNC assuming powers that it does not have is not for the Judicial Committee to do likewise.

    There are several plausible ways to bring the LNC into line.

    If there’s any immediate/emergency solution needed, one would be to contact key donors, explain the situation to them, and ask them to

    1) Withhold future donations until the situation is rectified and

    2) Send a note to LPHQ/LNC explaining why.

    There are several ways that approach could backfire, of course. It might just not work. Or it might work, but leave the national organization in an even more weakened financial position going into a presidential election year.

    Just as with the initial situation, the longer something like this can wait without serious damage, the longer it should wait if necessary. In this case, that could be all the way to the national convention.

  14. George Phillies

    The datadump list is an extremely useful source of people who may want to be state donors or activists. Denying it to Oregon damages Oregon.

    The LNC action appears political rather than ethical which may incite Oregon counteraction.

    If you are right that replacing the LNC membership solves problems, then starting with Karlan might be a sensible act by Oregon, especially if they solicit state as well as state chair responses.

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The datadump list is an extremely useful source of people who may want to be state donors or activists. Denying it to Oregon damages Oregon.”

    Every aspect of a broken relationship causes damage. The question is what damage is urgent and serious enough to require particular responses at particular times.

    Obviously that’s a question that the state LPs, especially Oregon’s, have to consider. I’m just articulating a general principle — escalate no more than absolutely necessary, and wait as long as one can to do so.

    As you may recall, my tripwire for escalation is usually a bit more sensitive than most people’s (e.g. looking into alternate venues for a legitimate 2010 national convention in St. Louis when it looked like the LNC might succeed in rigging the regular convention with a delegate poll tax).

    If I were still in the LP, my tripwire wouldn’t have been pulled by this just yet. At this point, my guess is that the bad guys are damaging themselves more than they’re damaging Oregon’s LP — and when your opponent is repeatedly kicking himself in the nuts, better to let him keep doing so.

  16. paulie Post author

    If you are right that replacing the LNC membership solves problems, then starting with Karlan might be a sensible act by Oregon, especially if they solicit state as well as state chair responses.

    The other states in the region are CT, NY, NJ, ME and RI. Do you see that as being likely?

  17. LNC To Vote on Obeying Its Bylaws

    There is now a motion before the Libertarian National Committee:

    Votes are due to the LNC Secretary by 10/16/2011, 11:59:59pm Pacific time.

    Sponsors: Mary Ruwart, Doug Craig, Vicki Kirkland, Norm Olsen

    Motion: That the LNC direct our ED to reinstate Wagner et al. as our official LPOregon affiliate as per the JC decision of 8/26/2011 and the JC Clarification of 9/23/2011.

    George Phillies

  18. George Phillies

    “…reinstate Wagner et al. as our official LPOregon affiliate as per the JC decision of 8/26/2011 and the JC Clarification of 9/23/2011…”

    There is a clear and unambiguous meaning here. The Wagner faction should have a link to their web pages and should be getting the National Party datadumps.

    Mentioning their Congressional candidate as someone Libertarians could support would also be good.

  19. Pingback: LNC reportedly voting by email whether to follow Judicial Committee decision on Oregon | Independent Political Report

  20. Pingback: Oregon Update: Plaintiff’s Response to Motion to Dismiss | Independent Political Report

  21. Jill Pyeatt

    It was a year ago today that I wrote this article, which still has more comments than any other article at IPR.

    How refreshing that this stunt from the Judicial Committee didn’t accomplish what they hoped to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *