WI Supreme Court mandates Dean Phillips' inclusion on primary ballot

 February 4, 2024

In a significant development on the 2024 electoral landscape, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has declared that officials in that state must place Democratic Party challenger Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) on the presidential primary ballot, as the Associated Press reports.

As such, incumbent President Joe Biden will not be running unopposed when the state's primary contest takes place on April 2.

Phillips' fight for inclusion

It was back on Jan. 26 that Phillips filed suit requesting that the Wisconsin Elections Commission take steps to ensure his presence on the Democratic Party primary ballot after officials previously omitted him from the process earlier this year.

In arguing for his inclusion on the ballot, the Biden challenger cited statutory language providing that in order to secure ballot access in Wisconsin, one must be “generally advocated or recognized in the national news media.”

That contention was met with an assertion from the state's Justice Department that the elections committee enjoys sole discretion as to which candidates will ultimately appear on the ballot.

Perseverance pays off

In the end, the Wisconsin high court determined that the committee's decision to exclude Phillips was not the result of any such exercise of discretion.

Rather, they found that members declared Biden to be the only candidate suitable for the ballot without engaging in any substantive discussion of Phillips' desire to be included.

The justices stated, “We conclude that the Presidential Preference Selection Committee erroneously exercised its discretion under (state law) with respect to Phillips,” noting that the meeting at which the ballot decision was made lasted roughly five minutes.”

Challenger lauds outcome

As The Hill noted, it was not long after the decision was announced that Phillips publicly heralded the Wisconsin high court's ruling permitting him to appear on the primary ballot.

“Thank goodness democracy is being protected by the judiciary, because our political parties are eroding it right in front of our eyes,” the congressman said on X.

He went on, “I'll keep exposing the truth and saying the quiet part out loud. Please join me.”

Continuing the battle

Phillips has been an outspoken critic of his own party's approach to the 2024 election process, which he says has been engineered to protect Joe Biden, saying in a statement to Semafor, “Unilaterally taking away the right of rank-and-file Democrats, including a disproportionate number of Black voters demanding a more affordable America, is reprehensible.”

“If Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and lead us to a safer, more affordable future, let him compete for that privilege without his supporters suppressing and disenfranchising millions of voters.”

Back in October, Phillips leveled perhaps his most damning accusations against the party he represents, saying of its handling of the 2024 contest, “Of course, its rigged against any challenger candidate under any circumstance,” and though his chances of overcoming the preferences of Democrat elites in time to make a difference this time around are likely quite slim, he does not appear to be going down without a fight.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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