State high court strikes down law on political party chairs

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Supreme Court says a law that requires political parties to elect, rather than appoint, their legislative district chairs is unconstitutional.

The unanimous ruling came Thursday in a case that challenged the King County Republican Central Committee’s longstanding practice of appointing its chairs in each legislative district. The challenge was brought by Andrew Pilloud, a former Republican candidate for state representative in Seattle.

Pilloud argued that state law requires the district chairs for political parties to be elected. But the court held that the law violates the political parties’ First Amendment right to freedom of association. The court said the law interferes with the parties’ self-governance without any compelling reason to do so.