By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Readers will note that in the headline I’ve written “Democratic Party” out of deference to those who recall the Republicans of forty years ago deploying “Democrat Party” as a smear. However, I’ve come to prefer “Democrat Party” regardless of past party wars, on the grounds that Democrats have to earn to moniker “Democratic,” and not merely claim it. The ongoing class action lawsuit by Bernie Sanders supporters against the Democratic National Committee is giving me ample grounds for that view. (The case is Wilding et al. v. DNC Services Corporation, D/B/A Democratic National Committee and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman Schultz, Case No. 16-cv-61511-WJZ (S.D. Fla. The plaintiffs maintain court-filed documents available for download at this link.)
I’m inspired to write this post by some wonderfully clarifying arguments made on behalf of the Democratic [sic] National Committee (DNC) at a motion hearing held in the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, before the Honorable William J. Zloch on April 25, 2017. (A PDF of the transcript is here.)
Now, I have no expertise in class action law whatever (though I recall from my landfill activism that they are not easy to bring, and that standing to sue, and how the class on whose behalf the suit will have been brought is to be defined, are high hurdles. For some reason, it seems that the court system does not encourage people to act together collectively as classes). So I’m not going to evaluate the legal arguments presented at all, assess the likelihood of any outcome, or even present the theory of the case. Rather, I’m going to quote some of the amazing statements made by the advocate for the defendants (the DNC, represented by (Bruce V. Spiva, Esq). They really speak for themselves.
The Democrat Party Has No Obligation to be Democratic
MR. SPIVA: [W]here you have a party that’s saying, We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have — and That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the Court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer those questions.
That’s exactly “the way it was done”, as the Podesta mails and the Guccifer 2.0 documents show.
Nobody Knows What a Fair Election Means
THE COURT: So, are you suggesting that this is just part of the business, so to speak, that it’s not unusual for, let’s say, the DNC, the RNC to take sides with respect to any particular candidate and to support that candidate over another?
MR. SPIVA: Well, I’m not suggesting that that is par for the course, your Honor. But what I am suggesting is to have those kinds of allegations is the rough and tumble of politics….
[T]hat’s for the party to decide. The Court’s not gonna get into that. Here, you have something far more inchoate, your Honor, which is this purported — this claim that the party acted without evenhandedness and impartiality. That — really would already drag the Court well into a political question and a question of how the party runs its own affairs.
Because we can’t define “evenhandedness and impartiality” — and here I think Spiva represents the views of the Democratic nomenklatura quite faithfully — the Party can do whatever it wants, including rigging an election, and there’s no form of redress!
Nobody Knows Who a Democrat Is, or What the DNC Is
MR. SPIVA: What is DNC’s special relationship with the members of the party? … You know, . There is no national registration. Some states don’t even have party registration. Many states, in fact. I mean Virginia, when you register to vote, you don’t register as a [D]emocrat or a [R]epublican or whatever. So, as far as the party’s concerned, they are trying to encourage people to vote for democratic candidates and to support democratic policies and values. But that’s not a class of people that can be defined by the Court. And that changes with every election and possibly, and probably, more frequently than that.
I corrected the (computerized) transcript on “D]emocrat or a [R]epublican or whatever,” but I wasn’t sure what to do about “vote for democratic candidates and to support democratic policies and values.” I suppose the “D” in “democratic candidates” should be capitalized, but what about “democratic… values”? I know what that means when the “D” is lowercased, but — at this point — what can “Democratic values” possibly mean, given that they are very explicitly not based on lower-case democratic processes? Pure tribalism?
The Courts Can’t Hold the Democrat Party Accountable for Anything, Ever
MR. SPIVA: And so this is very common to have these kind of inter/intraparty squabbles about doctrine, about policy, about rules, about selection of delegates…. [And] these eally these are matters for the parties.  Yes, they play a big role in the election of the president of the United States. But they are still private associations. They still have a right to order their own affairs. If someone’s not happy with the party that they’ve been aligned with, their choice is to start another party, or to give to the other party, or to give to a candidate that they think will shake things up within the party.
So we have an association whose membership is indeterminate, yet nonetheless can order its affairs by whim. Seems odd. And why the heck are we entrusting the election of any public official to these guys if the public can’t hold them accountable for how they run elections?
It seems to me that a party that brands itself “Democratic,” even if a private association, ought to “order its own affairs” in a democratic fashion. The Democrat Party lawyer disagrees. Again, I find this wonderfully clarifying.
Oh, and if we have any readers who have the necessary expertise to comment on the case, that would be great!
UPDATE Assume all the DNC”s arguments as prevented by Spiva are true. What then would a hostile takeover of such an entity look like?
 One prong of the plaintiff’s case is based on consumer fraud law: The DNC represented itself as being neutral and people donated money to it on that basis, when in fact (as shown by the Gufficer 2.0 documents) the DNC had its thumb on the scale for Clinton the whole time. I’m not sure I’m comfortable thinking of citizens as consumers.
 Rather like homeowners’ associations that enforce segregation or anti-semitism through covenants?
 The Democratic Socialists of America are a membership organization. I think that makes a lot more sense (though I can’t testify to the democratic character of the DSA’s rules and bylaws).