Cousins v. Wigoda

LOCATION: Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

DOCKET NO.: 73-1106
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 419 US 477 (1975)
ARGUED: Nov 11, 1974
DECIDED: Jan 15, 1975

Jerome H. Torshen - for respondents
Wayne W. Whalen - for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Cousins v. Wigoda

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 11, 1974 in Cousins v. Wigoda

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 15, 1975 in Cousins v. Wigoda

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion in 73-1106, Cousins against Wigoda will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This case is here on certiorari from the Appellate Court of the State of Illinois.

It involves a contest between two slates of delegates who sought to be seated as the delegation from Chicago to the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

The petitioners who are called the Cousins delegates challenged before the National Democratic Party Credentials Committee as violative of party guidelines the seating of the respondents called the Wigoda delegates who had been elected from Chicago districts of the March 1972 Illinois primary election as delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention to held in July of 1972.

The Credential Committee decided that the petitioners, that is the Cousins delegates should be seated instead of the respondents, the Wigoda delegates selected at the primary.

And the respondents on July 8, 1972, two days before the convention opened obtained an injunction from the Illinois Circuit Court enjoining the petitioners, the Cousins group from acting as delegates at the convention.

The Cousins delegates are nevertheless were seated by the convention and they functioned as delegates throughout and in consequence proceedings for criminal contempt are now pending against them in the Illinois courts.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the injunction holding that the right to seat 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.

We reverse 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 a electoral process and the Illinois courts therefore erred in issuing an injunction that abridged the associational rights of petitioners and their party protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Thus, this is a case where the convention itself was the proper forum for determining intraparty disputes as to which delegate should be seated.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed an opinion concurring in the result in which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Stewart have joined.

Mr. Justice Powell has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Brennan.