A lawsuit to prevent casino workers from caucusing at special precincts on the Las Vegas strip was thrown out of court Thursday.
The suit was brought up by a union with ties to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. The decision is is seen to be a boost to rival Barack Obama in the bid for the Democratic presidential nominee. Obama has been endorsed by the union represents many of hte workers who willb e able to use the precincts.
"State Democrats have a First Amendment right to association, to assemble and to set their own rules," U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan said.
Nevada's Democratic Party approved creation of the precincts to make it easier for housekeepers, waitresses and bellhops to caucus during the day near work, rather than have to do so in their neighborhoods.
But the state teachers union, associated with Clinton, brought the suit against the special precincts shortly after local 226 of the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama for the Democratic nomination. The Clinton campaign said it was not involved in the suit.
The teacher's union argued that the pary rules gave too much power to the casino workers and violated federal equal protection guarantees.
But the judge said, "We aren't voting here, we're caucusing. That's something that parties decide."
The decision could help in determining who wins Saturday's Nevada caucus, since according to recent polls, Obama and Clinton are virtually tied for the lead.
However, according to an American Research Group poll conducted January 9 through Monday, Clinton leads Obama 35 percent to 32 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers. Former Sen. John Edwards has the support of 25 percent. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are continuing to focus their attention on South Carolina.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows McCain at 28 percent, Huckabee at 19 percent, Mitt Romney at 17 percent, and Fred Thompson at 16 percent. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are tied with 5 percent support.
Thompson is also campaigning heavily in the Palmetto State. He's hoping to be the fourth winner in four major primary contests.