Bernie Sanders at the DNC, one month after his supporters filed a class action lawsuit against the party.

DNC Says Class Action Lawsuit Violates Their First Amendment Rights, According To New Hearing Transcripts

Last week, a federal judge heard oral arguments pertaining to the DNC’s Motion to Dismiss the class action suit known as Wilding et al. v. DNC Services Corp. and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman-Schultz. Senior Judge William J. Zloch heard the list of reasons why the Democratic National Committee and the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee feel the class action lawsuit should be dismissed. In an oral argument to the senior judge at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the representation for the DNC argued as an opening point that the lawsuit would violate members of the DNC’s constitutionally protected right to free association.

The First Amendment affords Americans a number of liberties, including the right to assembly and thereby the implied right to free association. One defense the DNC lawyers are using is that all of the issues the plaintiffs on the class action lawsuit are bringing up are not eligible to be determined by the court. They assert that the allegations made against the DNC are a private matter, and that if the court were to begin to decide whether the DNC acted fraudulently against the plaintiffs in the case, the court would be imposing on a group that was trying to practice its right to free assembly, according to the the transcripts of the hearing.

“I think through each of these questions, your Honor — and there are more — they are not justiciable, because they are political questions that courts have repeatedly said they — that they are not the province of the civil courts. It’s not redressable, because if the Court were to seek to answer those questions and impose burdens upon the party, it would violate the First Amendment rights of the party for free association. And so it’s not redressable.”

The DNC further stated that a class action suit can’t be taken up against them for the reasons the plaintiffs assert. The DNC said that the people included in the class action lawsuit would have to be deposed to give testimony.

Jared Beck, representing the plaintiffs, vehemently opposed the DNC’s allegations that the class action lawsuit would be unconstitutional.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of association are very, very important, but we also have a right not to be defrauded. We also have a right not to be taken advantage of by a fiduciary. We have a right not to be deceived. There’s no exception to those rights just because the fraudulent speech or the fraudulent conduct involved takes place in a political context. But that’s what the defendants want you to conclude in this case.”

Beck gave examples of Supreme Court precedents showing when the First Amendment is non-protective in cases of fraud and untruths. Then, he issued the specifics of what the class action suit is trying to address.

“We’re not asking this Court to infringe on the province of another branch of this government or to get involved in the conduct of Congress or the conduct of the Office of President. We’re asking this Court to determine whether representations and omissions were false and misleading, and whether money was paid on the basis of those representations, whether folks were injured in a financial sense as a result of those representations, and whether duties to the class members were breached, including fiduciary duties.”

The question at the moment isn’t even if the DNC owes damages to the plaintiffs in the class action suit. The question is whether the case should even be allowed to be heard in court. The DNC says that the line of questioning and the potential judgment violates their First Amendment right to free assembly. The people suing the DNC say that those rights don’t protect them from a fraud and negligence lawsuit.

The judge didn’t issue a judgment on the motion to dismiss at the bench.

What do you think? Leave a response in the comments section below. Do the people have a right to sue the DNC for fraud and negligence?

[Featured Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]

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