375 U.S. 399 (1964), 51, Anderson v. Martin

Docket Nº:No. 51
Citation:375 U.S. 399, 84 S.Ct. 454, 11 L.Ed.2d 430
Party Name:Anderson v. Martin
Case Date:January 13, 1964
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 399

375 U.S. 399 (1964)

84 S.Ct. 454, 11 L.Ed.2d 430

Anderson

v.

Martin

No. 51

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 13, 1964

Argued November 20-21, 1963

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

Syllabus

Appellants, residents of a Louisiana parish, are Negroes. Both sought election to the parish School Board in the 1962 Democratic Party primary election. Prior to the election, they filed this suit in federal court to enjoin the enforcement of Louisiana Revised Statutes §18:1174.1, which requires that, in all primary, general or special elections, the nomination papers and ballots shall designate the race of the candidates. A three-judge District Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute.

Held: the compulsory designation by Louisiana of the race of the candidate on the ballot operates as a discrimination against appellants, and is violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 402-404.

(a) The vice of the statute lies in the placing of the power of the State behind a racial classification that induces racial prejudice at the polls. P. 402.

(b) The challenged provision of the statute cannot be deemed to be reasonably designed to meet legitimate governmental interests in informing the electorate as to candidates. P. 403.

(c) The contention that the statute is nondiscriminatory because the labeling provision applies equally to Negro and white cannot be sustained. Pp. 403-404.

206 F.Supp. 700 reversed.

Page 400

CLARK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 18:1174.1 provides that in all primary, general or special elections, the nomination papers and ballots shall designate the race of candidates for elective office.1 The question involved in this appeal is whether this requirement violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment or the [84 S.Ct. 455] Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. A three-judge United States District

Page 401

Court, convened under 28 U.S.C. § 2284, upheld the constitutionality of the statute by a 2-to-1 vote, 206 F.Supp. 700. On direct appeal, 28 U.S.C. § 1253, we noted probable jurisdiction, 372 U.S. 904.

I

Appellants, residents of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are Negroes. Each sought election to the School Board of that parish in the 1962 Democratic Party primary election. Prior to the election, they filed this suit against the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are Negroes. Each sought election to the School Board of that parish in the 1962 Democratic Party primary election. Prior to the Election they, filed this suit against the Secretary of State of Louisiana seeking to enjoin the enforcement of Act 538 of the 1960 Louisiana Legislature, § 1174.1 of Title 18 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, which requires the Secretary to print, in parentheses, the race of each candidate opposite his name on all ballots. Asserting that the statute violated, inter alia, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, appellants sought both preliminary and permanent injunctions and a temporary restraining order. A United States district judge denied the motion for a temporary restraining order, and a three-judge court was convened. After a hearing on the merits, the preliminary injunction was denied, with one judge dissenting. Thereafter, the appellants sought to amend their complaint so as to show that the primary election had been held and that both appellants had been defeated2 because of the operation and enforcement of the statute here under attack. They further alleged that they

intend to be candidates in the next duly constituted democratic primary election for nomination as members of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. . . .

Leave to amend was denied by the district judge and the three-judge court thereafter denied the request for a permanent injunction. We have concluded that the compulsory designation by Louisiana of the race

Page 402

of the candidate on the ballot operates as a discrimination against appellants, and is therefore violative of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.3 In view of this, we do not reach appellants' other contentions.

II

At the outset, it is well that we point out what this case does not involve. It has nothing whatever to do with the right of a citizen to cast his vote for whomever he chooses and for whatever reason...

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