December 7, 2011
The Democratic Party? Really?
A True Democratic Party Wouldn't Cancel the Results of Party Elections
By Stan Shapiro
Yesterday Tracey L. Gordon filed suit against the Philadelphia Democratic Party for outrageously and illegally barring her from taking office as Democratic Committeeperson in the 40th Ward after she was duly elected to that position by the voters in her division. Ms. Gordon has done nothing that would remotely authorize the Party to dislodge her from her position, nor does the Party have any legal standing whatsoever to even attempt any such thing.
Tracey L Gordon was duly elected by her Southwest Philly neighbors as a Democratic Party committeeperson in Ward 40B at the primary held in May, 2010. The Party first tried to deny Gordon her right to even run in that election, but Judge Idee Fox ordered her name put on the ballot. Escalating their illegal campaign to bar Gordon, a perceived adversary of her ward leader Anna Brown, the Party had Gordon physically evicted by two Philadelphia police officers from the first Ward Committee meeting that occurred after the election. The eviction did more than harm Gordon, it trampled on the rights of the voters who elected her. They are left without any representation at all, particularly the representative of their choice.
Because what the Party did to Gordon it has done before and may well do again, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ms. Gordon and other individuals, as a class action. It asks the Court to bar the Party, in the future, from unseating any candidates who win election as Committeepersons within the City of Philadelphia under the pretext that they are unfaithful or disloyal to the Party or Ward, declare the practice illegal and to enjoin the Party from ever doing this again. The relief requested would invalidate the section of the Philadelphia Democratic Party bylaws that the City Committee relied upon to remove Ms. Gordon from office.
The Plaintiffs are being represented by public interest lawyers Irv Ackelsberg of Langer Grogan & Diver and Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Pennsylvania. They are being supported by the recently created Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus, which, prior to recommending the initiation of this litigation, had attempted to get relief through the Democratic Party structure without receiving any meaningful response. The Caucus is an activist group of duly elected Democratic Party committeepersons and members of the electorate who seek small d democratic reform of the Philadelphia electoral system to allow more progressive candidates to run and to win in Democratic primaries, and to be fully integrated into the Party when they do so.
Neighborhood Networks played a major role in the formation of the Progressive Caucus and is an active member. We will keep you posted on the progress of this lawsuit and of the Caucus' corresponding effort to insure that the name "Democratic Party" is well-deserved by the Party that wears it.
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