Appeals Court Affirms Decision Striking Down Incumbent Protection Act

Appeals Court Affirms Decision Striking Down Incumbent Protection Act

Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver, PLC, is pleased to announce that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision striking down Section 24.2-509(B) of the Code of Virginia, commonly known as the Incumbent Protection Act, in its entirety.

The Incumbent Protection Act granted incumbent politicians who stand for re-nomination the power to dictate the method of nomination used by their parties. WAW represented two political party committees and three grassroots political activists who challenged the Act. These plaintiffs alleged that the Act infringes on their First Amendment right of free association. In January 2018, District Court Judge Michael Urbanski found the Act unconstitutional. Nearly a year later, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that decision, holding:

a state may not force a political party to hand control over its nomination method to a single, self-interested individual; the private interest of an incumbent in winning reelection cannot, and certainly not in the manner chosen here, predominate over the associational rights of political parties.

The Plaintiffs were represented before the Court of Appeals by Jeffrey R. Adams and Lucas Pangle of Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver, PLC, located in Harrisonburg and Staunton, Virginia, and John C. Wirth of Nelson, McPherson, Summers & Santos, L.C., located in Staunton, Virginia.

Lead attorney Jeff Adams described the Court’s decision as “a victory, not just for political parties and their members, but for every citizen of Virginia. We all have an interest in a political system that is fair, open, and respects fundamental constitutional rights.”

Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver, PLC is a full-service law firm with offices in Harrisonburg and Staunton. The firm serves individuals and businesses in the Shenandoah Valley and the Mid-Atlantic states in the areas of: bankruptcy, commercial and civil litigation, corporate finance, employment law, health care law, intellectual property matters, medical malpractice, real estate and land use, tax planning, wills, estate planning, and administration.