New Jersey officials drop appeal of judge’s order to redraw Democratic primary ballot

Apr 8, 2024, 8:11 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — New Jersey county clerks have withdrawn their appeals to a federal court ruling requiring them to redraw primary election ballots that some argued favored candidates backed by the state’s Democratic Party.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia dismissed the appeals on Friday in response to the clerks’ action.

U.S. Judge Zahid Quraishi had ordered Democrats to scrap a ballot that listed party-endorsed candidates together in a bracketed group on the ballot — commonly called the county line — while listing others outside the bracket. New Jersey is the only state to set its primary ballots in this way.

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim filed the lawsuit as part of his bid for the Senate seat held by indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, who said he would not run in the primary. Republicans will not be affected by Quraishi’s order; the judge said it applies only to Democrats and only to the June 4 election.

Asked why she dropped her appeal, one of the clerks, Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi responded, “I just want to move forward. That’s what my focus is.”

The Associated Press left a text message with Kim’s spokesperson seeking comment Monday.

What exactly will happen in future primaries isn’t clear. Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have issued joint statements saying they plan to consider legislation but they haven’t specified just what that will look like.

Kim and two other Democratic candidates sued in federal court to block the county line primary system. He and many others in New Jersey politics contend that such a system gives the candidates who appear in the ballot’s bracketed column an unfair advantage, while relegating candidates not backed by the party to “ballot Siberia.”

When he filed the suit, Kim’s major opponent in the race for Menendez’s Senate seat was Tammy Murphy, wife of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. Kim argued that because Murphy earned the backing of powerful county party leaders in populous areas, she was unfairly given a favorable ballot position.

Murphy has since dropped out of the race, leaving Kim as a dominant candidate. Nonetheless, Kim has pledged to continue fighting the county line system.

National News

Associated Press

Federal appeals court says there is no fundamental right to change one’s sex on a birth certificate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel ruled 2-1 on Friday that Tennessee does not unconstitutionally discriminate against transgender people by not allowing them to change the sex designation on their birth certificates. “There is no fundamental right to a birth certificate recording gender identity instead of biological sex,” 6th U.S. Circuit Court […]

43 minutes ago

FILE - A version of a proposed Mississippi Senate redistricting map is displayed on a computer moni...

Associated Press

Mississippi must move quickly on a court-ordered redistricting, say voting rights attorneys

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi should work quickly to fulfill the court-ordered redrawing of some legislative districts to ensure more equitable representation for Black residents, attorneys for voting rights groups said in a new court filing Friday. The attorneys also said it’s important to hold special elections in the reconfigured state House and Senate districts […]

54 minutes ago

Associated Press

A US judge is reining in the use of strip searches amid a police scandal in Louisiana’s capital city

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The use of strip searches by police in Louisiana’s capital city was reined in Friday by a federal judge who said the policy under which Baton Rouge officers perform such searches on people who haven’t been arrested is “unconstitutional on its face.” U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s order came in litigation […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Police tape blocks the boarded-up residence of Timothy Haslett on Oct. 10, 2022, in Excelsio...

Associated Press

One woman escaped a ‘dungeon’ beneath a Missouri home, another was killed. Here’s a look at the case

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man facing trial on kidnapping and sexual assault charges after a woman said she escaped weeks in his captivity was arraigned Friday on a new charge of murder. Authorities say they linked him to the remains of a woman found in a barrel by the Missouri River. The case […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

375-pound loggerhead sea turtle returns to Atlantic Ocean after 3 months of rehab in Florida

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A 375-pound (170-kilogram) sea turtle has been released back into the Atlantic Ocean after three months of rehabilitation in Florida. Officials with the Brevard Zoo released a male loggerhead named Bubba Wednesday afternoon in Cocoa Beach. Biologists with Inwater Research found Bubba in St. Lucie County on April 10, officials […]

2 hours ago

FILE - An American Airlines Airbus A321 takes off from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Ai...

Associated Press

Smoking laptop in passenger’s bag prompts evacuation on American Airlines flight in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A smoking laptop in a passenger’s bag prompted an evacuation on an American Airlines flight headed to Miami from San Francisco International Airport Friday, according to the airline. One person sustained minor injuries while exiting that required transport to a hospital, the airline said. Passengers evacuated via emergency slides and a […]

2 hours ago

New Jersey officials drop appeal of judge’s order to redraw Democratic primary ballot