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NOMINATION PETITION JUSTIN JOHNSON. APPEAL REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE (12/11/85)

decided: December 11, 1985.

IN RE NOMINATION PETITION OF JUSTIN JOHNSON. APPEAL OF THE REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE, ROBERT B. ASHER AND DAVID M. SANKO. IN RE NOMINATION PETITION OF JUSTIN JOHNSON. APPEAL OF HONORABLE JUSTIN M. JOHNSON


No. 21 W. D. Appeal Docket 1985 Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court dated April 2, 1985, entered at No. 770 C.D. 1985. No. 27 W. D. Appeal Docket 1985 Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court dated April 25, 1985, entered at No. 770 C.D. 1985 SUBMITTED.

COUNSEL

C. Kent Price, Harrisburg, Thomas B. Kenworthy, Philadelphia, for the Republican State Committee et al.

Mark D. Schwartz, Pittsburgh, for Justin Johnson.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. McDermott, J., concurs in the result of this opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 509 Pa. Page 348]

OPINION

On April 22, 1985, this Court, 507 Pa. 555, 492 A.2d 1118, entered an order in the above captioned appeal docketed at No. 21 W.D. On May 2, 1985, a second order was entered in the appeal docketed at No. 27 W.D. Both of these orders indicated that this opinion would follow.

These matters relate to a challenge to the nomination petition of the Honorable Justin M. Johnson, (hereinafter referred to as "Candidate") who was seeking the inclusion of his name on the ballot for the May 1985 Republican Party primary as a candidate for the office of Judge of the Superior Court. The April 22 order reversed the Commonwealth Court order sustaining one of the preliminary objections to the petition to set aside the Candidate's nomination petition. We directed that the matter be remanded to the Commonwealth Court for consideration and resolution of the remaining issues. Thereafter, the Commonwealth Court reached the merits of the objection and sustained the challenge to the nomination petition. The order of May 2 again reversed the Commonwealth Court, reinstated the

[ 509 Pa. Page 349]

    nomination petition and directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth to certify the Candidate's name for inclusion on the May 1985 Republican primary ballot.*fn1

I.

On March 12, 1985, the Candidate filed a nomination petition pursuant to section 953 of the Election Code, Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, Article IX, § 953, as amended, 25 P.S. 2913 (Supp. 1985). The objectors, the Republican State Committee and two members of the Republican Party, Robert B. Asher and David M. Stanko (hereinafter collectively "Objectors"), filed a petition to set aside the Candidate's nomination petition pursuant to section 977 of the Election Code, 25 P.S. § 2937 (Supp. 1985), on March 19, 1985, the last date on which that provision permitted the filing of such an objection.*fn2 A verification of the allegations contained in the Objectors' petition was filed on March 20, 1985.

On March 22, 1985, the Candidate filed preliminary objections to the Objectors' petition maintaining, inter alia, that the verification was untimely. The Commonwealth Court sustained that preliminary objection.

After our remand order of April 22, the Commonwealth Court thereafter considered and dismissed the Candidate's remaining preliminary objections and reached the merits of the Objectors' petition. After a hearing, that court found that eleven (11) of the one hundred ten (110) individuals who signed Candidate's Blair County nomination petition were not registered and enrolled members of the Republican Party and concluded that their names must be stricken. As

[ 509 Pa. Page 350]

    a result, the Candidate's petition fell short of the Election Code's requirement that a candidate for the office of Judge of the Superior Court must procure at least one hundred (100) signatures of qualified electors in each of five (5) counties to qualify for a place on a party primary ballot. 25 P.S. § 2872.1(9) (Supp. 1985).

The Candidate immediately appealed to this Court on April 30, 1985. Since the primary was imminent (May 21, 1985), further oral argument of the matter was impracticable. After considering the parties' briefs on the merits of the Objectors' ...


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