Monday, April 17, 2017

A Motion for the Libertarian Party of Florida's State Convention

Submitted to the Secretary in writing this morning:

I move to replace Article II, Section 6 of the bylaws, in its entirety, with the following:

a. Any member of the Executive Committee may be removed, by a two-thirds vote of the whole Executive Committee, for violation of the non-aggression oath or for malfeasance in office.

b. The Executive Committee may, by a two-thirds vote of the whole Committee, publicly censure, and disassociate the Libertarian Party of Florida from, the statements or actions of any member if those statements or actions tend to bring the Party into disrepute or discredit it before the people and voters of Florida, or violate the non-aggression oath. The member may appeal the censure/disassociation in writing addressed to the Executive Committee within 30 days. If an appeal is made, the delegates to the next state convention shall review the appeal and the votes of two-thirds of voting delegates shall be required to sustain the censure/disassociation.

Here's the existing Article II, Section 6:

Any member of the Libertarian Party of Florida, or member of the Executive Committee, may be suspended by two-third vote of the executive committee for violation of the Non-Aggression oath. Upon suspension of a member of the party or a member of the Executive Committee, the officer or member may appeal the suspension in writing within 30 days. If no appeal is made by the suspended officer or member, they shall be removed from office, and have their membership revoked, upon expiration of the 30 day appeal period. If an appeal is made, the executive committee shall review the appeal and vote upon removal at the next regularly scheduled executive committee meeting. A three-fourths vote will be required to remove the appealing suspended officer or member. Should the vote fail, the suspension will be lifted and membership and/or Executive Committee status shall be fully restored. Should the three-fourths vote pass, membership shall be revoked for a period of one year, at which time the member shall be eligible to reapply for membership as defined in Article 2 of the Constitution, or by majority vote of the delegation at the next annual meeting. After a member has been reinstated, should that individual’s membership be revoked as outlined above a second time, the revocation shall become permanent, and that individual will no longer be eligible for membership in the LPF.

My argument for this amendment is as follows:

The provision allowing for "suspension" and "revocation" is defective in two ways.

  1.  It is of no great effect. Political parties are organized under state law. If you are registered to vote as "LPF" in Florida you are, for all intents and purposes other than convention participation as a delegate (for which your certification or non-certification of the non-aggression oath can be verified), an LPF member. If you decide to run for public office as a Libertarian and pay the filing fee or submit the requisite number of signatures, you will be on the ballot in the LPF primary for that office. And if you win that primary (or if there is no primary because no one else files for the same office), you will be the Libertarian Party of Florida's candidate for that office. The suspension/revocation procedure is, to put it as bluntly as possible, mere preening and puffery. It does not actually protect the party in any way.
  2. On the other hand, it seems to carry such weight that members of the Executive Committee are apparently -- on the evidence of the motion to invoke it with respect to Augustus Invictus, voted down at the Executive Committee meeting of April 16 -- hesitant to actually use it.
This motion dispenses with the fiction that LPF actually has the power to bar anyone from participation in the party as a voter or as a candidate for office, while retaining its power to remove misbehaving Executive Committee members and creating a simple way for LPF to disassociate itself as an organization from particular actions or statements.

I have always considered suspension/revocation provisions -- as well as candidate "vetting" provisions, which I expect to address in another motion -- suspect when it comes to the general membership of a state political party, for the simple reason that state political parties are organized under, and governed by, state law. State Libertarian Parties like to characterize themselves as "private" organizations when they want to do whatever they happen to feel like doing, while simultaneously demanding the benefits accorded "public" organizations vis a vis the ability to put candidates on general election ballots. That's hypocritical, and it tends to produce perverse outcomes.

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