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COUSINS V. WIGODA, 419 U. S. 477 (1975)

U.S. Supreme Court

Cousins v. Wigoda, 419 U.S. 477 (1974)

Cousins v. Wigoda

No. 73-1106

Argued November 11, 1974

Decided January 15, 1975

419 U.S. 477


Petitioners (Cousins delegates) challenged before the National Democratic Party Credentials Committee, as violative of Party guidelines, the seating of respondents (Wigoda delegates) who had been elected from Chicago districts at the March, 1972, Illinois primary election as delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention to be held in July, 1972. The Committee decided that the Cousins delegates should be seated instead of the Wigoda delegates, who, on July 8, 1972, two days before the Convention opened, were granted an injunction by the Illinois Circuit Court enjoining the Cousins group from acting as delegates at the Convention. The Cousins delegates nevertheless were seated by the Convention and functioned a. delegates. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, holding that "[t]he right to sit as a delegate representing Illinois at the national nominating convention is governed exclusively by the Illinois Election Code," and that the "interest of the State in protecting the effective right to participate in primaries is superior to whatever other interests the party itself might wish to protect." In another suit, which had been brought in the District Court for the District of Columbia, one Keane, a Wigoda delegate, challenged the constitutionality of the Party guidelines allegedly violated in the Wigoda delegates' selection. The District Court sustained one of the challenged guidelines and dismissed Keane's suit while denying the Party's counterclaim for an injunction against the Wigoda delegates' proceeding with the state court action. The Court of Appeals, on July 5, affirmed the dismissal but granted the counterclaim. This Court, in a per curiam opinion, stayed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and later, having granted Keane's petition for certiorari, vacated the Court of Appeals' judgment and remanded for a determination of mootness. The Court of Appeals thereafter held the case moot insofar as it involved the seating of delegates at the completed Convention and affirmed dismissal of the Keane suit. In addition to their arguments on the merits, petitioners contend that language in the

Page 419 U. S. 478

per curiam established the Convention's right to decide the Chicago credentials contest, and that this Court's action in staying, but not vacating, the Court of Appeals' judgment left that judgment as a res judicata bar to the injunction.


1. This Court's per curiam unqualifiedly suspended the operative effects of the Court of Appeals judgment without resolving the merits of the controversy; and petitioners' res judicata contention is not open for consideration, not having been pleaded and proved in the Circuit Court as required by state law. Pp. 419 U. S. 485-487.

2. In the selection of candidates for national office, a National Party Convention serves the pervasive national interest, which is paramount to any interest of a State in protecting the integrity of its electoral process, and the Circuit Court erred in issuing an injunction that abridged the associational rights of petitioners and their Party and the Party's right to determine the composition of its National Convention in accordance with Party standards. Pp. 419 U. S. 487-491.

14 Ill.App.3d 460, 302 N.E.2d 614, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 419 U. S. 491. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 419 U. S. 496.

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