The case Tuesday before the Manhattan federal Court of Appeals got to the constitutional question for which there is only one answer: Can New York State force political parties to endorse candidates for president or face extinction? Of course not, but that’s just what Albany wants to do, and what Appeals Judges Robert Sack, Michael Park and Steven Menashi must prevent.
The Serve America Movement Party, or SAM Party, focuses on local concerns and won a ballot line fair and square when its gubernatorial contender earned sufficient votes last time around. But Capitol poo-bahs decided that they didn’t like small parties — Gov. Cuomo has long had it in for the Working Families Party — and wrote a law dictating that all parties must also clear a presidential minimum tally from New York voters.
The Working Families and Conservative parties survived the assassination attempt, but under the bad new rules, SAM will be no more. That’s because it doesn’t run presidential candidates or endorse other parties’ standard-bearers for national office, which rendered its ballot line last month blank.
And it’s not just SAM headed for the junk heap; other minor parties that didn’t back either Joe Biden or Donald Trump have been killed.
The state is saying to the little parties: You must pick one of the big boys or you’re gone. That is a direct violation of the parties’ First Amendment rights of freedom of association. Turnout was high this fall, a modern record of two-third of eligible voters. What New York is doing is akin to telling the one-third of voters who didn’t cast ballots that they now lose the franchise.
We note for the judges that the all-phone hearing occurred on Bill of Rights Day, marking the Dec. 15, 1791, ratification of our charter of freedoms. Your honors, honor that legacy.
– Daily News Editorial Board