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The Constitution says nothing about the presidential nominating process and has had little direct role in the evolution of that process from congressional caucuses to party national conventions to our current primary-dominated system of selecting convention delegates. Yet, constitutional law is a factor in empowering and constraining the principal actors in the nomination process and in shaping the framework for potential future changes.

The constitutional law of the presidential nomination process operates along two axes: government-party, and state-national. The government-party dimension focuses on the tension between the states and the federal government in writing the rules for and administering the electoral process — which may include the primary elections that determine the nominees of the political parties — and the right of the parties to determine how to pick their nominees. This government-party axis affects all nominations of candidates for state and federal office.


Constitutional Law | Election Law | Law | Public Law and Legal Theory


This material has been published in "The Best Candidate: Presidential Nomination in Polarized Times", edited by Eugene D. Mazo & Michael R. Dimino. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.