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Opinion of the Court.

in turn receives its authority from the Federal Constitution.12 Neither the language of Art. II, § 1, nor that of the Twelfth Amendment forbids a party to require from candidates in its primary a pledge of political conformity with the aims of the party. Unless such a requirement is implicit, certainly neither provision of the Constitution requires a state political party, affiliated with a national party through acceptance of the national call to send state delegates to the national convention, to accept persons as candidates who refuse to agree to abide by the party's requirement.13

The argument against the party's power to exclude as candidates in the primary those unwilling to agree to aid and support the national nominees runs as follows: The constitutional method for the selection of the President and Vice-President is for states to appoint electors who shall in turn vote for our chief executives. The intention of the Founders was that those electors should exercise their judgment in voting for President and VicePresident. Therefore this requirement of a pledge is a restriction in substance, if not in form, that interferes with the performance of this constitutional duty to select the proper persons to head the Nation, according to the best judgment of the elector. This interference with the

12 U. S. Const., Art. II, § 1:

". . . Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. . . .”

Twelfth Amendment, note 1, supra; In re Green, 134 U. S. 377, 379; Burroughs v. United States, 290 U. S. 534.

13 The Supreme Court of Alabama has just said that the Democratic Party of that state was thus affiliated with the national organization. See the excerpt from Ray v. Garner, in the text at note 5, supra.

Opinion of the Court.

343 U.S.

elector's freedom of balloting for President relates directly to the general election and is not confined to the primary, it is contended, because under United States v. Classic, 313 U. S. 299, and Smith v. Allwright, 321 U. S. 649, the Alabama primary is an integral part of the general election. See Schnell v. Davis, 336 U. S. 933. Although Alabama, it is pointed out, requires electors to be chosen at the general election by popular vote, Ala. Code, 1940, Tit. 17, § 222, the real election takes place in the primary. Limitation as to entering a primary controls the results of the general election."4


First we consider the impact of the Classic and Allwright cases on the present issues. In the former case, we dealt with the power of Congress to punish frauds in the primaries "[w]here the state law has made the primary an integral part of the procedure of choice." We held that Congress had such power because the primary was a necessary step in the choice of candidates for election as federal representatives. Therefore the sanctions of §§ 19 and 20 of the old Criminal Code, subsequently re

14 There is also a suggestion that, since the Alabama primary is an integral part of the general election, the Fourteenth Amendment, which among other prohibitions forbids a state to exclude voters on account of their color, also forbids a state to exclude candidates because they refuse to pledge their votes. The answer to this suggestion is that the requirement of this pledge, unlike the requirement of color, is reasonably related to a legitimate legislative objectivenamely, to protect the party system by protecting the party from a fraudulent invasion by candidates who will not support the party. See note 9, supra. In facilitating the effective operation of democratic government, a state might reasonably classify voters or candidates according to party affiliations, but a requirement of color, as we have pointed out before, is not reasonably related to any legitimate legislative objective. Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U. S. 536. This requirement of a pledge does not deny equal protection or due process.

Furthermore, the Fifteenth Amendment directly forbids abridgment on account of color of the right to vote.


Opinion of the Court.

vised as 18 U. S. C. §§ 241 and 242, which forbade injury to constitutionally secured rights, applied to the right to vote in the primary. 313 U. S., at 317-321. In the latter, the problem was the constitutionality of the exclusion of citizens by a party as electors in a party primary because of race. We held, on consideration of state participation in the regulation of the primary, that the party exclusion was state action and such state action was unconstitutional because the primary and general election were a single instrumentality for choice of officers. The Fifteenth Amendment's prohibition of abridgment by a state of the right to vote on account of race made the exclusion unconstitutional. Consequently, under 8 U. S. C. §§ 31 and 43 an injured party might sue one injuring him. 321 U. S. 649, 660-664.

In Alabama, too, the primary and general elections are a part of the state-controlled elective process. The issue here, however, is quite different from the power of Congress to punish criminal conduct in a primary or to allow damages for wrongs to rights secured by the Constitution. A state's or a political party's exclusion of candidates from a party primary because they will not pledge to support the party's nominees is a method of securing party candidates in the general election, pledged to the philosophy and leadership of that party. It is an exercise of the state's right to appoint electors in such manner, subject to possible constitutional limitations, as it may choose. U. S. Const., Art. II, § 1. The fact that the primary is a part of the election machinery is immaterial unless the requirement of pledge violates some constitutional or statutory provision. It was the violation of a secured right that brought about the Classic and Allwright decisions. Here they do not apply unless there was a violation of the Twelfth Amendment by the requirement to support the nominees of the National Convention.

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Opinion of the Court.

343 U.S.

Secondly, we consider the argument that the Twelfth Amendment demands absolute freedom for the elector to vote his own choice, uninhibited by a pledge. It is true that the Amendment says the electors shall vote by ballot. But it is also true that the Amendment does not prohibit an elector's announcing his choice beforehand, pledging himself. The suggestion that in the early elections candidates for electors contemporaries of the Founders-would have hesitated, because of constitutional limitations, to pledge themselves to support party nominees in the event of their selection as electors is impossible to accept. History teaches that the electors were expected to support the party nominees.15 Experts in the history of government recognize the long

15 11 Annals of Congress 1289-1290, 7th Cong., 1st Sess. (1802): "Under the Constitution electors are to vote for two persons, one of whom does not reside in the State of the electors; but it does not require a designation of the persons voted for. Wise and virtuous as were the members of the Convention, experience has shown that the mode therein adopted cannot be carried into operation; for the people do not elect a person for an elector who, they know, does not intend to vote for a particular person as President. Therefore, practically, the very thing is adopted, intended by this amendment."

S. Rep. No. 22, 19th Cong., 1st Sess. (1826), p. 4:

"In the first election held under the constitution, the people looked beyond these agents [electors], fixed upon their own candidates for President and Vice President, and took pledges from the electoral candidates to obey their will. In every subsequent election, the same thing has been done. Electors, therefore, have not answered the design of their institution. They are not the independent body and superior characters which they were intended to be. They are not left to the exercise of their own judgment; on the contrary, they give their vote, or bind themselves to give it, according to the will of their constituents. They have degenerated into mere agents, in a case which requires no agency, and where the agent must be useless, if he is faithful, and dangerous, if he is not." See 2 Story on the Constitution (5th ed., 1891) § 1463.


Opinion of the Court.

standing practice.16 Indeed, more than twenty states do not print the names of the candidates for electors on the general election ballot. Instead, in one form or another, they allow a vote for the presidential candidate of the national conventions to be counted as a vote for his party's nominees for the electoral college." This long-continued practical interpretation of the constitutional propriety of an implied or oral pledge of his ballot by a can

16 McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U. S. 1, 36: "Doubtless it was supposed that the electors would exercise a reasonable independence and fair judgment in the selection of the Chief Executive, but experience soon demonstrated that, whether chosen by the legislatures or by popular suffrage on general ticket or in districts, they were so chosen simply to register the will of the appointing power in respect of a particular candidate."

III Cyclopedia of American Government (Appleton, 1914), Presidential Elections, by Albert Bushnell Hart, p. 8:

"In the three elections of 1788-89, 1792 and 1796 there was a liberal scattering of votes, 13 persons receiving votes in 1796; but in 1800 there were only five names voted on. As early as 1792 an understanding was established between the electors in some of the different states that they should combine on the same man; and from 1796 on there were always, with the exception of the two elections of 1820 and 1824, regular party candidates. In practice most of the members of the electoral colleges belonged to a party, and expected to support it; and after 1824 it became a fixed principle that the electors offered themselves for the choice of the voters or legislatures upon a pledge to vote for a predesignated candidate." 17 E. g., Massachusetts:

Annotated Laws of Massachusetts, c. 54:

"§ 43. Presidential Electors, Arrangement of Names of Candidates, etc.-The names of the candidates for presidential electors shall not be printed on the ballot, but in lieu thereof the surnames of the candidates of each party for president and vice president shall be printed thereon in one line under the designation 'Electors of president and vice president' and arranged in the alphabetical order of the surnames of the candidates for president, with the political designation of the party placed at the right of and in the same line with

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