Civil Cases – Opinions Released in Calendar Year 2022

Newsome (Starbuck) v. Tennessee Republican Party (Candidate Excluded from GOP Primary)

Style: Newson (Starbuck) v. Tennessee Republican Party

TSC Docket Number: M2022-00735-SC-R10-CV

Supreme Court Opinion Date: June 10, 2022 (no oral argument)

Opinion of the TSC: Click here.

TSC Summary of the Opinion:

Plaintiff Robert Starbuck Newsom a/k/a Robby Starbuck sought to be a Republican candidate for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District for the United States House of Representatives. The Tennessee Republican Party and the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee (“Defendants”), acting under relevant statutory authority and party rules, determined that Mr. Starbuck was not a bona fide Republican and informed the Tennessee Coordinator of Elections of the decision to exclude Mr. Starbuck from the ballot. Mr. Starbuck initially sought relief in federal court and failed to obtain injunctive relief. After voluntarily dismissing his federal action, Mr. Starbuck filed a complaint in the Davidson County Chancery Court alleging, among other things, that Defendants violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act by determining in a non-public meeting that he was not a bona fide Republican. The chancery court granted Mr. Starbuck a temporary injunction on the basis that Defendants violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act and ordered that Mr. Starbuck be restored to the ballot. Defendants filed an application for extraordinary appeal under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 10. This Court assumed jurisdiction over the appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 16-3-201(d) and Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 48 and granted the application for extraordinary appeal. We conclude that the trial court erred by granting the injunction because the Tennessee Open Meetings Act does not apply to Defendants. We vacate the injunction and remand to the trial court.

Editor’s Note  This case was an expediated appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County.  There is no Court of Appeals opinion.  There was no oral argument.


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