Thus, if there is no constitutional right attached to the process of choosing the more powerful political party officer, no such right is attached to the process of choosing a less powerful officer like a ward leader. Accordingly, insofar as plaintiff claims equal protection under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 (3), her suit must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
In contrast to Lynch, at least on philosophical grounds, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Bentman v. Seventh Ward Democratic Executive Committee, 421 Pa. 188, 218 A. 2d 261 (1965), seemed less reluctant to "intervene" in the internal management of a political party. Bentman can perhaps be distinguished. There, the Seventh Ward Executive Committee expelled committeemen who had actually been elected by the voters in their precincts. While here no individuals have had taken away from them their title as committeemen, one must nevertheless ask whether such a distinction is one of form or substance. In Bentman, a manipulative ward leader stripped the title of committeemen from citizens who were actually elected to office by a majority of their constituents. Here, while the committeemen keep their titles, it is alleged that a manipulative ward leader denied them the option of voting in a ward election. Probably either type of manipulative conduct is just as destructive of any concept of enlightened representative government. If I were bound to anticipate how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would construe this issue as a matter of Federal constitutional law, I would be inclined to hold that under the rationale suggested in Bentman, plaintiff's complaint should not be dismissed. However, I am bound by the ruling of the Court of Appeals of this Circuit and, because of Lynch, I cannot justify this court's intervention in the election of a ward leader when trial judges have been advised that a federal court should not even intervene in the election of a party's county chairman.
In her claim under § 1983, plaintiff relies not only on rights secured to her by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but also on rights guaranteed her by the First Amendment and made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff's Complaint, Doc. #1, para. 17. While plaintiff does not specifically name these rights, one can safely assume from her reliance on Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 89 S. Ct. 5, 21 L. Ed. 2d 24 (1968), that the rights in question cluster around the concept of "freedom of association." The issue, however, is not whether plaintiff possesses these rights. She unquestionably does. Williams v. Rhodes, supra at 30-31, 89 S. Ct. at 10; see also Weisberg v. Powell, 417 F.2d 388 (7th Cir. 1969), and Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 88 L. Ed. 497, 64 S. Ct. 397 (1944) (dictum). The issue, rather, is whether her associational rights have been abridged by "state action" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment or action "under color of" state law within the meaning of § 1983.
Once again, Lynch v. Torquato, supra, is dispositive of the issue: "the normal role of party leaders in conducting internal affairs of their party, other than primary or general elections, does not make their party offices governmental offices or the filling of these offices state action." 343 F.2d at 372. The instant case involves not a primary or a general election, but rather the internal affairs of a political party, specifically the filling of a party office. Under Lynch, supra, the filling of such an office is not state action or action under color of state law. Accordingly, because plaintiff's associational rights were not abridged or impaired by state action -- as opposed to the private action of party leaders conducting the internal affairs of their party -- she has again failed to state a claim under § 1983 upon which relief may be granted. Her suit must therefore be dismissed.
Lest there be any confusion on the point, this opinion in no way endorses or condones arbitrary or unfair procedures in the conduct of a political party's internal business. Certainly, Mr. McGlinchey will merit no high marks in the annals of history if his conduct was as outrageous as plaintiff asserts it was. However, the federal courts are not empowered to right every wrong in our society -- regardless of how egregious some wrongs might be. Under the law of this circuit, Mr. McGlinchey's alleged wrongdoing does not constitute a breach of any federal right. Thus, plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed with prejudice.
Dated: October 30, 1975
A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. / J.
AND NOW, this 30th day of October, 1975, for the reasons stated in the foregoing Opinion, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED, and plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice.
BY THE COURT:
A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. / J.