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WIGODA v. COUSINS

May 17, 1972

PAUL T. WIGODA, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER DULY ELECTED, CHALLENGED AND UNCOMMITTED DELEGATES AND ALTERNATES TO THE 1972 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION FROM THE 1ST, 2D 3RD, 5TH, 7TH, 8TH, 9TH AND 11TH ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WILLIAM COUSINS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff originally brought this action in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, County Department, Chancery Division, seeking 1) to have himself and others similarly situated declared duly elected delegates and alternates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention (the "Convention") in accordance with Illinois law and therefore entitled to take their seats at the Convention; and 2) to enjoin the defendants from taking any action that would interfere with plaintiff's functioning as delegates and alternates to the Convention. Defendants removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446, alleging that the case was properly removable to a Federal Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 1443. Plaintiff then moved to have the case remanded back to the State Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) on the ground that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute. Inasmuch as we find that there is no basis for federal jurisdiction over the subject matter of this dispute, we grant plaintiff's motion and remand the case to the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Before proceeding with an examination of the possible jurisdictional bases for this cause of action, a more detailed statement of the relevant facts is necessary. In a primary election held in Illinois on March 21, 1972, plaintiff and the class he purports to represent (the "uncommitted delegation") were elected as "uncommitted" delegates and alternates to the Convention. That they were elected in accordance with the provisions of the Illinois Election Code relating to the selection of delegates to a national convention of a political party, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 46 §§ 7-14 and 7-14.1, is not disputed. On March 31, the defendants filed with the Acting Chairman of the Credentials Committee of the 1972 Democratic National Convention (the "Credentials Committee") a "Notice of Intent to Challenge" the seating of the members of the plaintiff class as delegates and alternates to the Convention.

Thereafter, the defendants additionally filed a "Statement of Grounds of Challenge Against the Proposed `Uncommitted' Delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention from the Districts Encompassing the City of Chicago" in which they alleged that the members of the plaintiff class were selected in violation of the Rules adopted by the Democratic National Committee and incorporated into the Call of the 1972 Democratic National Convention which set forth standards and qualifications to be met in the selection of delegates from each of the states to the Convention (the so-called "McGovern Rules"). Specifically, the defendants contend that "[b]lacks, Latin Americans, women and young people are grossly underrepresented on the Proposed Delegation and in all Chicago party affairs" and that "the Proposed Delegation was slated, endorsed, and supported by the party organization without open slate-making procedures, without published rules and by party officials chosen prior to 1972."

On April 24, plaintiff moved to have the case remanded to the state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447 on the ground that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the case. In addition, plaintiff moved for an order temporarily restraining defendants from proceeding with their challenge to the Credentials Committee. Both motions were taken under advisement pending a determination whether we have jurisdiction. On May 2, plaintiff submitted a motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from proceeding before the Credentials Committee.

After discussion with plaintiff's counsel in open court, the Court ruled on the question of enjoining defendants pending a determination of the jurisdictional question. The motion for a preliminary injunction and the motion for a temporary restraining order were denied on May 2, inasmuch as there had been no showing of immediate and irreparable harm as required by Rule 65(b), Fed.R.Civ.P., and because the underlying claim for relief in the case — an order enjoining the defendants from exercising their First Amendment rights within procedures set up by a national political party — raises substantial constitutional questions which ought not be resolved on a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction but only after a full hearing on the merits.

Given that background of the case, it must now be determined whether this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute. In their petition for remand, defendants have asserted two statutory bases for removal jurisdiction — 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 1443 — each of which will be discussed separately.

I. SECTION 1441

In essence, section 1441 provides that removal is permissible if the federal court to which the action is being removed would have had jurisdiction over the subject mater and parties if the action had originally been brought in that federal court. Inasmuch as the parties to the instant action are all citizens of Illinois, in order for removal to be proper under § 1441, the action must have been maintainable, if brought here originally, under federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, i.e., the matter in controversy must exceed $10,000 in value and arise under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.

The defendants have proffered several bases for federal question jurisdiction, asserting that the controversy arises under the Constitution of the United States — Article II § 1, 1st Amendment, 14th Amendment, and 15th Amendment. It is important to note initially that any basis for federal jurisdiction must stem solely from the allegations of the complaint. Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Galbreath Cattle Co., 271 U.S. 99, 46 S.Ct. 439, 70 L.Ed. 854 (1926); Gully v. First National Bank, 299 U.S. 109, 57 S.Ct. 96, 81 L.Ed. 70 (1936); Crow v. Wyoming Timber Products Co., 424 F.2d 93 (10th Cir. 1970). See also, Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S.Ct. 42, 53 L.Ed. 126 (1908). The defendants' primary argument is that, since the case involves a controversy connected with the election of the President of the United States, albeit several steps removed from the formal selection of the President by the Electoral College pursuant to Article II § 1, as amended, it arises under the Constitution. They argue that the request in the complaint that the court declare that the uncommitted delegation is entitled to sit as such at the Convention raises the question whether the selection of this uncommitted delegation in accordance with Illinois election laws constitutes a bar to a challenge under the rules of the National Democratic Party and that this question can only be decided under the Federal Constitution.

No case has been cited in support of this argument apparently because it is a question of first impression. We hold that the eligibility of delegates to a national party convention is not within the scope of Article II § 1, as amended by the 12th Amendment. To conclude otherwise would be to open the federal courts to a wide variety of controversies, for, under the same logic, almost any controversy can somehow be related to a general provision in the Constitution. The mere fact that this controversy centers around a preliminary process pertaining to the selection of the President without more does not confer jurisdiction over that controversy upon the federal courts.

This is not to suggest that the qualifications and eligibility of delegates to national political party conventions is properly determinable by state law or by state courts. If it were, each of the fifty states could establish the qualifications of its delegates to the various party conventions without regard to party policy, an obviously intolerable result. The proper forum for determination of the eligibility of delegates to serve at such a convention is the Credentials Committee of the party or the convention. This is clearly a question of political party policy which is not justiciable, if at all, unless and until the Credentials Committee acts and then only if its actions violate fundamental constitutional rights.

The state election laws are applicable only to the extent that they regulate the manner of selection of delegates and are not applicable to their ...


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