Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig prevails in a win for the Republican Party of Virginia before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Richmond, VA (December 11th, 2018) – Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, a leading corporate and intellectual property law firm with law offices across the U.S., Puerto Rico, London, Toronto, and China, announces a significant victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for the statewide Republican Party of Virginia. Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig has been defending the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) and the Frederick County Republican Committee (FCRC) in a lawsuit filed against them by plaintiffs Jay Marts and Dana Newcomb.

Mr. Marts and Mr. Newcomb are two former Republican Party members who lost their party membership due to their public advocacy against the GOP’s nominees. The plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleging that the Republican Party’s membership requirements violated their constitutional rights. The district court dismissed the case because political parties are not government entities and the Republican Party’s management of its own internal affairs did not constitute actionable government conduct but instead was an exercise of the GOP’s own fundamental right to freedom of association. Because the Republican Party’s actions were not government conduct, but instead were private activities protected by the First Amendment, the district court found that Mr. Marts and Mr. Newcomb had not properly alleged a constitutional violation.

The plaintiffs then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, claiming that the district court erred in dismissing their suit. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and ruled in favor of the Republican Party. “This is an important win. By affirming the lower court’s decision, the Fourth Circuit has implicitly upheld the First Amendment rights of the Republican party—and in fact, all political parties—to manage their own internal affairs,” stated Cortland Putbrese, the lead partner on this case. In addition to Mr. Putbrese, DBL lawyers Kevin Streit and Erick Poorbaugh assisted on this matter.

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