Communist Party of Indiana v. Whitcomb

PETITIONER: Communist Party of Indiana, et al.
RESPONDENT: Edgar D. Whitcomb, etc., at al.
LOCATION: Office of the Indiana Secretary of State


DOCKET NO.: 72-1040
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 414 US 441 (1974)
ARGUED: Oct 16, 1973
DECIDED: Jan 09, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Sanford Jay Rosen - for appellants
Theodore L. Sendak - for appellees

Facts of the case

In 1972, the Communist Party of Indiana, a new political party, wished to place its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States on the ballot. The Indiana State Election Board rejected its application to do so until the officers of the party had filed an affidavit stating that the party did not advocate the overthrow of local, state, or national government by force or violence. The Communist Party of Indiana sued State Election Board and its members and sought an injunction that would require the Board to place the candidates on the ballot. The district court found the policy constitutional and required the Communist Party of Indiana to submit an affidavit to that effect. The Board found the Party’s affidavit unsatisfactory and again rejected it. The Party sought an injunction requiring the Board to accept the affidavit, and the district court denied the motion.

 

Question

Does Indiana’s policy requiring any new political party to file a loyalty oath signed by its officers violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Media for Communist Party of Indiana v. Whitcomb

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 16, 1973 in Communist Party of Indiana v. Whitcomb

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 09, 1974 in Communist Party of Indiana v. Whitcomb

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 72-1040, Communist Party of Indiana against Whitcomb, Governor of Indiana will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

In this case, a three-judge District Court for the Northern District of Indiana sustained the constitutionality of an Indiana statute which denied a new political party a place on the ballot, unless its officers filed an affidavit that the party does not advocate the overthrow of local state or national government by force or violence.

We reverse.

We hold that the Indiana statute is unconstitutional.

Mr. Justice Powell joined by the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Blackmun and Mr. Justice Rehnquist, has filed an opinion concurring in the reversal, but on a different ground.