Federal Judge Reinstates New York Democratic Presidential Primary

May 5, 2020 Updated: May 6, 2020

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the New York Democratic presidential primary must take place on June 23 because canceling it would be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled that there was enough time to figure out how to carry out the presidential primary safely.

The ruling comes after New York officials in late April had canceled the Democratic presidential primary in the state in an attempt to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus from China.

Democratic members of New York’s State Board of Elections had voted to cancel the primary, citing the CCP virus as a danger to voters, while noting that Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, stands virtually unopposed among Democrats. New York was still going to hold its congressional and state-level primaries on June 23.

Lawyers for former presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Andrew Yang had argued a day prior to Torres’s ruling against canceling the presidential primary.

Torres wrote that “the removal of presidential contenders from the primary ballot not only deprived those candidates of the chance to garner votes for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but also deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform, vote on party governance issues, pressure the eventual nominee on matters of personnel or policy, and react to unexpected developments” at the Democratic National Convention scheduled for Aug. 17-20.

It also “deprived Democratic voters of the opportunity to elect delegates who could push their point of view in that forum,” she wrote. “The loss of these First Amendment rights is a heavy hardship.”

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (R) greet each other before they participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, on March 15, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Sanders and Biden reached a deal late April to let Sanders keep hundreds of delegates, even though the senator had suspended his campaign earlier in the month.

Sanders had made clear that he wanted to continue collecting delegates from remaining primaries, including in New York, to maximize his influence over the party platform and other decisions at the Democratic convention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy