Snowden v. Hughes

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation64 S.Ct. 397,88 L.Ed. 497,321 U.S. 1
Docket NumberNo. 57,57
PartiesSNOWDEN v. HUGHES et al
Decision Date17 January 1944

See 321 U.S. 804, 64 S.Ct. 778.

Mr. W. R. Ming, of Chicago, Ill., for petitioner.

Mr. William C. Wines, of Chicago, Ill., for respondents Edward J. Hughes et al.

Mr. Isaac E. Ferguson, of Chicago, Ill., for respondents Robert E. Straus et al., as coexecutors, etc.

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), 8 U.S.C.A. §§ 41, 43, 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), 28 U.S.C.A. § 41(1), a suit for the recovery of damages for injury to property and for deprivation of a right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, 28 U.S.C. § 41(12), 28 U.S.C.A. § 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), 28 U.S.C.A. § 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 Ass'n 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, Smith-Hurd Stats. 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 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 re- spondents 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), 8 U.S.C.A. §§ 41, 43, 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.

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, 24 S.Ct. 502, 48 L.Ed. 737, 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), 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 41(1, 12, 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), 8 U.S.C.A. §§ 43, 47(3).1

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 suit for damages.

Three distinct provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee rights of persons and property. It declares that 'No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State drprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

The protection extended to citizens of the United States by the privileges and immunities clause includes those rights and privileges which, under the laws and Constitution of the United States, are incident to citizenship of the United States, but does not include rights pertaining to state citizenship and derived solely from the relationship of the citizen and his state established by state law. In re Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 74, 79, 21 L.Ed. 394; Maxwell v. Bugbee, 250 U.S. 525, 538, 40 S.Ct. 2, 5, 63 L.Ed. 1124; Prudential Ins. Co. v. Cheek, 259 U.S. 530, 539, 42 S.Ct. 516, 520, 66 L.Ed. 1044, 27 A.L.R. 27; Madden v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 309 U.S. 83, 90-93, 61 S.Ct. 406, 409, 410, 84 L.Ed. 590, 125 A.L.R. 1383. The right to become a candidate for state office, like the right to vote for the election of state officers, Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, 170—178, 22 L.Ed. 627; Pope v. Williams, 193 U.S. 621, 632, 24 S.Ct. 573, 575, 48 L.Ed. 817; Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 283, 58 S.Ct. 205, 208, 82 L.Ed. 252, is a right or privilege of state citizenship, not of national citizenship which alone is protected by the privileges and immunities clause.

More than forty years ago this Court determined that an unlawful denial by state action of a right to state political office is not a denial of a right of property or of liberty secured by the due process clause. Taylor and Marshall v. Beckham, 178 U.S. 548, 20 S.Ct. 1009, 44...

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