DISCLAIMER: The author of this story is not an attorney and does not claim to be an attorney.
Recently, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and active Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced his opposition to the first-in-the-nation status of the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries:
Julián Castro came to Iowa with a message few utter when campaigning in the first-in-the-nation caucus state: Iowa shouldn't be first.
On Sunday, Castro said the first states to weigh in for the presidential primaries — currently, Iowa as the first state to caucus and New Hampshire as the first state to hold a primary — should better reflect America's diversity. He reiterated those calls in Cedar Rapids on Monday.
“Iowa and New Hampshire are wonderful states with wonderful people,” he said following an event commemorating veterans. “But they’re also not reflective of the diversity of our country, and certainly not reflective of the diversity of the Democratic Party.”
I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, but Julián has a very valid point. The Democratic caucus/primary electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire are predominantly white, whereas most other states have Democratic primary/caucus electorates that are far more ethnically-diverse and have a far higher percentage of voters of color. Furthermore, as Nate Silver pointed out earlier today on Twitter, presidential campaign news in the lead-up to the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries gets disproportionately more media coverage than the lead-up to the Nevada Caucuses and the South Carolina Primaries:
Long story short, two states that select a small percentage of the total Democratic National Convention delegate pool and have Democratic primary/caucus electorates that have a considerably higher percentage of white voters than the overall Democratic primary/caucus electorate nationwide are going to invariably have a disproportionately large influence on who the Democratic nominee for president is.
I am not a lawyer, but I’ve hypothesized that there may be a constitutional argument against the entire concept of first-in-the-nation status. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Given that Iowa and New Hampshire play a disproportionate role in deciding major-party presidential nominees, one could make an argument that, if becoming a member of a political party and voting/caucusing in a presidential nomination contest in the political party of a voter/caucuser’s choice is deemed a privilege of U.S. citizenship, then Iowa and New Hampshire having first-in-the-nation status could be, at least theoretically, deemed unconstitutional. However, there is, according to Bleeding Heartland’s Laura Belin, a lot of deference to states and political parties that has historically been given by courts in regards to presidential nomination contests:
I wonder what the DailyKos community thinks about this. Is there a potential constitutional argument against first-in-the-nation status?