We have carefully read and reread Jenness. In our view, this case differs from Jenness in several material aspects. In Jenness, a Georgia elector need not indicate support for the political body whose solicitors circulate the petitions, and may sign as many nominating petitions as he wishes in a 26-week period ending in early June. In our case, the Pennsylvania elector must certify that he "represents" the political body and may sign only one nominating petition in a three-week period ending in early March.
The Pennsylvania Election Code is in general an exceptionally well considered statute and the defect complained of here is the first serious flaw in the statute which has come to our attention. We are most reluctant to declare a state act unconstitutional, whether in whole or in part, unless the surrounding circumstances require such a result.
Where is the compelling necessity that in excess of 35,000 signatures be obtained in Pennsylvania on behalf of a candidate in a three-week period beginning 265 days before the election at which his name appears for the first time thereafter on the ballot?
We conclude that this three-week period is so short and so remote from the election as to be unreasonable. We have been unable to ascertain any valid purpose to be served by it.
The three-week requirement is suffocating and effectively blocks access to the ballot by all but the most disciplined of minority political organizations. It freezes the status quo and reduces the voters' choice to a bare minimum.
The presumption favoring the constitutionality of legislation is in this case outbalanced by the weight which must be accorded to the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs and the class which they represent. Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 529-530, 65 S. Ct. 315, 89 L. Ed. 430 (1945). United Ossining Party v. Hayduk, 357 F. Supp. 962, 166 N.Y. Law Journal No. 69, 10/7/71, p. 1 (S.D.N.Y. 1971). With respect to the three-week provision, we find no compelling state interest as required by Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 89 S. Ct. 5, 21 L. Ed. 2d 24 (1968) nor a reasonable basis. An injunction is warranted restraining the enforcement of 1937 P.L. 1333 § 953(b), as amended, 1963 P.L. 707 § 12, 25 P.S. § 2913(b), insofar as it would render any candidate ineligible to receive the nomination of any of the Plaintiffs with respect to the election scheduled for November 7, 1972.
We anticipate that the Pennsylvania legislature will enact a new and reasonable provision for circulation of nominating papers by political bodies in years subsequent to 1972. If it does not do so, persons aggrieved in the future may apply to this Court for relief.
The foregoing shall constitute our findings of fact and conclusions of law under F.R. Civ. P. 52(a).
An appropriate order will be entered.