321 U.S. 1 (1944), 57, Snowden v. Hughes

Docket Nº:No. 57
Citation:321 U.S. 1, 64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 497
Party Name:Snowden v. Hughes
Case Date:January 17, 1944
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 1

321 U.S. 1 (1944)

64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 497

Snowden

v.

Hughes

No. 57

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 17, 1944

Argued December 13, 1943

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Allegations of a complaint in the federal district court, in substance that the defendants, members of a state board acting as such but in violation of state law, by their failure and refusal to certify correctly the results of a primary, deprived the complainant of nomination and election as a representative in the state assembly, held insufficient to state a cause of action under the Fourteenth Amendment or the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Pp. 5, 13.

2. The privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not protect rights derived solely from the relationship of the citizen and his State established by state law. P. 6.

3. The right to become a candidate for state office is not a right or privilege protected by the privileges and immunities clause. P. 7.

4. The unlawful denial by state action of a right to a state political office is not a denial of a right of property or of liberty secured by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 7.

5. The action of the state board, though it be regarded as state action, did not deny the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 7.

(a) Where a statute requires official action discriminating between a successful and an unsuccessful candidate, the required action is not a denial of equal protection, since the distinction between

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the successful and the unsuccessful candidate is based on a permissible classification. P. 8.

(b) The unlawful administration of a state statute fair on its face, resulting in its unequal application to those entitled to be treated alike, is not a denial of equal protection unless there is shown to be present an element of intentional or purposeful discrimination. P. 8.

(c) The illegality under state law of the action taken neither adds to nor subtracts from its validity under the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 11.

6. Whether the action of the state board in this case was state action within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment is not decided. P. 13.

132 F.2d 476 affirmed.

Certiorari, 319 U.S. 738, to review the affirmance of a judgment dismissing the complaint in a suit to recover damages for infringement of civil rights.

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner, a citizen of Illinois, brought this suit at law in the District Court for Northern Illinois against respondents, citizens of Illinois, to recover damages for infringement of his civil rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and 8 U.S.C. §§ 41, 43, and 47(3). He alleged that the suit was within the jurisdiction of the court as a suit arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, 28 U.S.C. § 41(1), a suit for the recovery of damages for injury to property and for deprivation of

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a right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, 28 U.S.C. § 41(12), and a suit for the recovery of damages for deprivation, under color of state law, custom, regulation, or usage, of a right or privilege secured by the Fourteenth Amendment, 28 U.S.C. § 41(14).

The complaint makes the following allegations. Petitioner was one of several candidates at the April 9, 1940, Republican primary election held in the Third Senatorial District of Illinois pursuant to Ill.Rev.Stat. 1943 (State Bar Assn.Ed.), Ch. 46, Art. 8, for nominees for the office of representative in the Illinois General Assembly. By reason of appropriate action taken respectively by the Republican and Democratic Senatorial Committees of the Third Senatorial District in conformity to the scheme of proportional representation authorized by Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, § 8-13, two candidates for representative in the General Assembly were to be nominated on the Republican ticket and one on the Democratic ticket. Since three representatives were to be elected, Ill.Const., Art. IV, §§ 7 and 8, and only three were to be nominated by the primary election, election at the primary as one of the two Republican nominees was, so the complaint alleges, tantamount to election to the office of representative.

The votes cast at the primary election were duly canvassed by the Canvassing Board of Cook County, which, as required [64 S.Ct. 399] by Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, § 8-15, certified and forwarded to the Secretary of State a tabulation showing the results of the primary election in the Third Senatorial District. By this tabulation, the Board certified that petitioner and another had received, respectively, the second highest and highest number of votes for the Republican nominations. Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, § 8-13 requires that the candidates receiving the highest votes shall be declared nominated.

Respondents Hughes and Lewis and Henry Horner whose executors were joined as defendants and are respondents

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here, constituted the State Primary Canvassing Board for the election year 1940. By Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, § 8-15 it was made their duty to receive the certified tabulated statements of votes cast, including that prepared by the Canvassing Board of Cook County, to canvass the returns, to proclaim the results, and to issue certificates of nomination to the successful candidates. Such a certificate is a prerequisite to the inclusion of a candidate's name on the ballot. Ill.Rev.Stat., Ch. 46, § 10-14. Acting in their official capacity as State Primary Canvassing Board, they issued, on April 29, 1940, their official proclamation which designated only one nominee for the office of representative in the General Assembly from the Third Senatorial District on the Republican ticket and excluded from the nomination petitioner, who had received the second highest number of votes for the Republican nomination.

After setting out these facts, the complaint alleges that Horner and respondents Hughes and Lewis "willfully, maliciously and arbitrarily" failed and refused to file with the Secretary of State a correct certificate showing that petitioner was one of the Republican nominees, that they conspired and confederated together for that purpose, and that their action constituted "an unequal, unjust and oppressive administration" of the laws of Illinois. It alleges that Horner, Hughes and Lewis, acting as state officials under color of the laws of Illinois, thereby deprived petitioner of the Republican nomination for representative in the General Assembly and of election to that office, to his damage in the amount of $50,000, and, by so doing, deprived petitioner, in contravention of 8 U.S.C. §§ 41, 43 and 47(3), of rights, privileges and immunities secured to him as a citizen of the United States and of the equal protection of the laws, both guaranteed to him by the Fourteenth Amendment.

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The District Court granted motions by respondents to strike the complaint and dismiss the suit upon the grounds, among others, that the facts alleged did not show that the plaintiff had been deprived of any right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that, the alleged cause of action being predicated solely upon a claim that state officers had failed to perform duties imposed upon them by state law, their failure was not state action to which the prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment are alone directed, and hence was not sufficient to establish an infringement of rights secured to petitioner by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed, 132 F.2d 476, holding, on authority of Barney v. City of New York, 193 U.S. 430, that the action of the members of the State Board, being contrary to state law, was not state action, and was therefore not within the prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In substance, petitioner's alleged cause of action is that the members of the State Primary Canvassing Board, acting as such but in violation of state law, have, by their false certificate or proclamation and by their refusal to file a true certificate, deprived petitioner of nomination and election as representative in the state assembly. To establish a cause of action arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States within the jurisdiction of the District Court as prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 41(1), (12) and (14), he relies particularly on the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment supplemented by two sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 8 U.S.C. §§ 43, 47(3).1

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Section 43 provides that:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . . for redress.

Section 47(3), so far as now relevant, gives an action for damages to any person "injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States," by reason of a conspiracy of two or more persons entered into "for the purpose of depriving . . . any person . . . of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." It is the contention of petitioner that the right conferred on him by state law to become a candidate for and to be elected to the office of representative upon receipt of the requisite number of votes in the primary and general elections is a right secured to him by the Fourteenth Amendment, and that the action of the State Primary Canvassing Board deprived him of that right and of the equal protection of the laws for which deprivation the Civil Rights Act authorizes his...

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1317 practice notes
  • 132 F.Supp. 305 (W.D.Mich. 1955), Civ. A. 2542, Kenney v. Fox
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Western District of Michigan
    • June 3, 1955
    ...equally as well to the decision of any court, right or wrong, adds nothing to the force or effect of the complaint. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 497. But assuming that the State court proceedings were not within the jurisdiction of the courts which decided them, or ......
  • 241 B.R. 862 (Bkrtcy.N.D.Ohio 1999), 98-3134, In re Pitts
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Sixth Circuit
    • September 9, 1999
    ...those rights which owe their existence to the Federal Government, its National Character, its Constitution, or its Laws. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 6-7, 64 S.Ct. 397, 400, 88 L.Ed. 497 (1944) citing In re Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36, 74, 79, 21 L.Ed. 394 (1873). This Co......
  • 261 F.Supp. 545 (N.D.Tex. 1966), Civ. A. 3-1670, Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • December 9, 1966
    ...contingencies are perhaps best illustrated by Mr. Justice Frankfurter's Page 551 comment, concurring in Snowden v. Hughes, at page 16 of 321 U.S. 1, at page 405 of 64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 'Our question is not whether a remedy is available for such illegality (if any), but whether it is avail......
  • 262 F.Supp. 520 (C.D.Cal. 1967), 66-1280, Love v. Navarro
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Central District of California
    • January 10, 1967
    ...As the U.S. Supreme Court has said: 'Mere violation of a state statute does not infringe the federal Constitution'. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 11, 64 S.Ct. 397, 402, 88 L.Ed. 497 (1944). And it has been specifically held that no claim under the Civil Rights Act is stated by a local taxp......
  • Free signup to view additional results
1307 cases
  • 132 F.Supp. 305 (W.D.Mich. 1955), Civ. A. 2542, Kenney v. Fox
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Western District of Michigan
    • June 3, 1955
    ...equally as well to the decision of any court, right or wrong, adds nothing to the force or effect of the complaint. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 497. But assuming that the State court proceedings were not within the jurisdiction of the courts which decided them, or ......
  • 241 B.R. 862 (Bkrtcy.N.D.Ohio 1999), 98-3134, In re Pitts
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Sixth Circuit
    • September 9, 1999
    ...those rights which owe their existence to the Federal Government, its National Character, its Constitution, or its Laws. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 6-7, 64 S.Ct. 397, 400, 88 L.Ed. 497 (1944) citing In re Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36, 74, 79, 21 L.Ed. 394 (1873). This Co......
  • 261 F.Supp. 545 (N.D.Tex. 1966), Civ. A. 3-1670, Ferrell v. Dallas Independent School Dist.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • December 9, 1966
    ...contingencies are perhaps best illustrated by Mr. Justice Frankfurter's Page 551 comment, concurring in Snowden v. Hughes, at page 16 of 321 U.S. 1, at page 405 of 64 S.Ct. 397, 88 L.Ed. 'Our question is not whether a remedy is available for such illegality (if any), but whether it is avail......
  • 262 F.Supp. 520 (C.D.Cal. 1967), 66-1280, Love v. Navarro
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Central District of California
    • January 10, 1967
    ...As the U.S. Supreme Court has said: 'Mere violation of a state statute does not infringe the federal Constitution'. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 11, 64 S.Ct. 397, 402, 88 L.Ed. 497 (1944). And it has been specifically held that no claim under the Civil Rights Act is stated by a local taxp......
  • Free signup to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • One person, no vote: staggered elections, redistricting, and disenfranchisement.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 121 Nbr. 7, May 2012
    • May 1, 2012
    ...rejected the claim that elected officials have a property or contract right to a particular office. See, e.g., Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 7 (1944); Taylor v. Beckham, 178 U.S. 548, 577 (1900); see also Reaves v. Jones, 515 S.W.2d 201, 204 (Ark. 1974) ("[T]he right to hold office is......
  • Picturing takings.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 88 Nbr. 1, November 2012
    • November 1, 2012
    ...v. Moore, 553 U.S. 164 (2008) (holding that an arrest that violates state law did not violate the Fourth Amendment); Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1 (1944) (holding that there was no equal protection violation when a state election law was violated). But the issue here is distinct in that the......
  • Inserting the last remaining pieces into the takings puzzle.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 38 Nbr. 3, March 1997
    • March 1, 1997
    ...a violation of constitutional rights). (29.) See Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1, 26 (1992) (Thomas, J., concurring); Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 6-7 (30.) 458 U.S. 419 (1982). (31.) See id. at 435. (32.) See id. at 422. (33.) As will be noted later, there is some disagreement among the m......
  • CHALLENGING CONGRESS'S SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICT MANDATE FOR U.S. HOUSE ELECTIONS ON POLITICAL ASSOCIATION GROUNDS.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 61 Nbr. 6, May 2020
    • May 1, 2020
    ...right to relief ... is not diminished by the fact that the discrimination relates to political rights.'" (quoting Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 11 (213.) Id. at 217. (214.) As Part II demonstrates, the Anderson-Burdick test constitutes a judicially accepted standard for dealing with a......
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