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CONSUMER PARTY v. DAVIS

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


March 26, 1985

CONSUMER PARTY, MAX WEINER, LANCE HAVER, WILLIAM THORN, and LISA BRANNAN
v.
WILLIAM R. DAVIS, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; RICHARD ANDERSON, Bureau of Legislation, Commissions and Elections; MARGARET TARTAGLIONE, MARION TASKO and JOHN KANE, Commissioners of the City of Philadelphia

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO

NORMA L. SHAPIRO, J.

 MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

 Plaintiffs, the Consumer Party and several of its officers, candidates and members, sought preliminary and permanent injunctive and declaratory relief prohibiting the enforcement of Act 190 of 1984, 25 Pa. C.S.A. § 912.1, against the Consumer Party. There is jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(1), (3), (4) and 2201. *fn1" Plaintiffs contended that the challenged state legislation, substantially increasing the number of signatures required to nominate candidates in the primary election, unconstitutionally deprives the Consumer Party of the right to participate in elections. Defendants City and Commonwealth responded that the Consumer Party has or will have a sufficient number of registered party members to place candidates for primary nomination in the Consumer Party name or to write them in on the primary ballot; if the number of registered party members is insufficient for these purposes, defendants stated that Consumer Party members and supporters could write-in their preferred candidates on the general election ballot.

 The court heard testimony and issued an Order denying plaintiffs' motion on March 12, 1985. This Memorandum constitutes the findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of that Order.

 We begin by considering the nature and extent of Pennsylvania's statutory scheme. The Pennsylvania Election Code, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2600 et seq., establishes a two-tiered system of political associations for electoral purposes: political parties and political bodies. A state-wide political party is defined as an organization polling in the state as a whole, and in each of at least ten counties, not less than two percent of the largest entire vote cast for any state-wide candidate elected in the preceding general election, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2831(a); a political body is any other political association which nominates candidates for general elections, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2831(c). Any party or body, one of whose candidates polled at least five percent of the largest entire vote cast for any county candidate elected at either the general or municipal election preceding the primary, is a political party within that county, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2831(b).

 Political parties must nominate all their candidates for office at primary elections, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2862, at which only those registered as members of a political party may vote, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2832. *fn2" The candidates who win a party primary are that party's nominees for office at the next general election. In order to qualify for a place on a party's primary ballot, a candidate must file a nomination petition signed by a requisite number of registered members of that party, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2868. *fn3" Although one signing a primary nominating petition must be a registered party member, a candidate need not be a party member unless he or she is seeking party office or selection as a party delegate to a nominating convention, 25 Pa.C.S.A. § 2868. Tile 25 Pa. C.S.A. § 2872, the predecessor to Act 190 of 1984, required, inter alia, primary nominating petitions to be signed by the following number of registered party voters: President and United -- 100 in each of at least States Senate ten counties. State-wide Office -- 100 in each of five counties. Representative in Congress -- 200 and State Senator State Legislature -- 100 City-Wide Office (first- -- 100 class cities)

19850326

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