The editorial ''Michigan Rules (Cont'd.)" {Jan. 13} came down on the side of the Bush delegation in supporting the state court decisions that gave the Republican Party nominees a "free ride" as convention delegates. There are facts that I believe the editorial writer did not know or understand -- and that were given little or no weight by the state judges who heard the Bush legal complaints.

The contested provision of Michigan state law is a rather vague statute stating that all party nominees shall be automatic delegates "at large" at the county conventions of their parties. The question of whether this was intended to apply to those county conventions at which the sole purpose is to select national convention delegates has never before been addressed. Although this law has been on the books since 1968, nominees have never been granted the privilege of automatic seating because state (and national) party rules have prevented it. In 1984, national rules were changed for entirely other reasons, and from the resulting wording it is possible to construe that these nominees could be seated.

However, since 1972 the Supreme Court and other federal courts have consistently ruled that inasmuch as political party associations are protected by the First and 14th amendments' rights of free speech and free political association, the state may not interfere with their internal affairs, at least unless there is an overriding state interest.

In a contest between the delegates of Jesse Jackson and the late Chicago mayor Richard Daley in 1972, the Supreme Court said the states have no constitutionally delegated position in the process of nomination of the party candidate for president. The statutes of Michigan gave a free ride to nominees, while the other delegates had to circulate petitions and appear on the ballot to become elected.

Because of the inconsistencies and confusion, the Republican Party passed certain party rules to remove the problems. Unfortunately, an overworked state court judge with a self-confessed "inundated docket" made the original opinion with a somewhat cursory view of the basic constitutional rights of a political party. He essentially ruled that the national Republican Party required a state party to follow state law -- even if it caused a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

There is still a chance that the federal court will reverse the impact of these decisions in time for the state convention on Jan. 29 and 30. The Republicans will then have to try to "unscramble the egg" and proceed to complete their regular business of selecting 77 delegates to the New Orleans convention. JAMES F. SCHOENER Washington The writer is an attorney who advises the Kemp campaign.