Bernie Sanders supporters lose Clinton favoritism case, alleges DNC not obliged to be ‘neutral’

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The Democratic National Committee and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz are enjoying a win in the courts as a lawsuit alleging favoritism of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders was dismissed.

The class-action lawsuit brought by a group of Sanders supporters following the 2016 election was ruled in favor of the defendants by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

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The lawsuit claimed that “during the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, the DNC and Ms. Wasserman Schultz improperly tipped the scales in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was challenging Senator Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination,” the ruling stated.

“The DNC argued the only-in-politics defense that the Sanders donors knew that the committee was biased toward Clinton, and therefore, it was under no legal obligation to be neutral or fair to all candidates,” Law & Crime reported. “The ruling went in favor of the defendants not because of an absence of wrongdoing, but rather because it seemed impossible to fit their conduct into an appropriate legal context.”

Donors to the Vermont senator’s 2016 campaign sued the DNC and former DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, in federal court in Florida, alleging fraud and misrepresentation among other claims. The plaintiffs cited emails that were posted by Wikileaks that showed the Democratic Party was working against Sanders from the beginning of his candidacy and was not supporting the Independent senator, actively diverting resources to help Clinton win the party’s nomination.

The DNC moved to dismiss the lawsuit and cited defenses that were what Law & Crime referred to as “real whoppers.”

According to Law & Crime:

But nestled in the brief are two arguments that are deeply disturbing. First, there’s the contention by the DNC that the Bernie Sanders donors knew that the committee was biased. Second, and even more disturbing, is the argument that any statements about being neutral and fair to all candidates if made by the DNC were nothing but “political promises” and are unenforceable at law.

 

The lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit was upheld by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that although the donors in the case had been negatively impacted by giving their money to an organization that wasn’t as neutral as they thought, they failed to show how they had relied on the promises made by the DNC.

Also, the statutes the plaintiffs had used to argue the case did not apply since the DNC wasn’t actually selling a product or service.

“We are mindful that there are deep disagreements within (and outside) the Democratic Party about the DNC’s alleged conduct during the 2016 primaries,” Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote for the three-judge panel of the court which included Judge Britt Grant and Senior Judge Frank Hull.

“But federal courts can only adjudicate cognizable claims, and the complaint here fails on a number of jurisdictional and substantive grounds,” Jordan, who was nominated to the Eleventh Circuit Court by former President Bill Clinton, wrote.

Frieda Powers

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