HADNOTT V. AMOS, 394 U. S. 358 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hadnott v. Amos, 394 U.S. 358 (1969)

Hadnott v. Amos

No. 647

Argued January 21, 1969

Decided March 25, 1969

394 U.S. 358


Appellants, the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) and some of its officers and candidates (mostly Negroes) in the November, 1968, general election, brought suit against respondents, state officials, seeking to enjoin enforcement of certain Alabama election laws which appellants claimed were unconstitutional on their face and had been discriminatorily used by appellees to keep various NDPA candidates from being on the ballot in that election. These laws included (1) Ala.Code, Tit. 17, § 274 (1958), which required a candidate within five days after the announcement of his candidacy to file a statement designating his finance committee and (2) the "Garrett Act" of 1967, which required independent candidates, who, prior to that law, could file declarations of intent after nomination by mass meeting in May, to do so by March 1, when primary candidates had to file. A three-judge District Court entered a temporary restraining order enjoining the appropriate Alabama officials from using ballots at the 1968 general election which did not include the names of the NDPA candidates. Appellees' answer challenged the qualifications of those candidates for failure to comply with the Alabama laws. After a hearing, the District Court dissolved the temporary injunction and upheld the Alabama statutes on their face and as applied. This Court, on appellants' application and after oral argument, ordered the District Court's temporary restraining order continued pending action on the jurisdictional statement. The NDPA candidates were elected to various offices in Etowah, Marengo, and Sumter Counties, and apparently would have been elected in Greene County had their names appeared on the ballot. There, Probate Judge Herndon, who was responsible for preparing the ballot, omitted the names of the NDPA candidates on the ground that they had not filed a second § 274 designation after the Democratic primary of May 7, 1968, in which they had been candidates (although the successful white candidates filed no second designation after that date), and that, "to the best of his knowledge and belief," the NDPA had held no mass meeting to choose candidates for the general election on that date, as they claimed to have done (in

Page 394 U. S. 359

accordance with an Alabama law that local candidates not selected in primaries be nominated by mass meeting the first Tuesday in ay of the election year). Herndon later admitted knowing that the NDPA candidates had made the § 274 designation in February, 1968, before they entered the primary, and that the NDPA mass meeting might have been held without his having known about it. After the election, appellants filed in this Court a motion to show cause why Judge Herndon should not be held in contempt and why the Greene County election should not be set aside and a new election held. The District Court (in response to a motion by the United States) issued a rule to show cause why the Greene County election should not be enjoined, and the court stayed giving effect to that election.


1. The disqualification in the 1968 election of the NDPA candidates on the ground that they failed to meet requirements under the Alabama Corrupt Practices Act which their opponents did not have to meet constituted, on the record here, an unequal application of the law in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 394 U. S. 361-364.

2. Disqualification of the NDPA candidates for failure to comply with the Garrett Act was unlawful since that Act, which imposed increased barriers on independent candidates, was inoperative because the Alabama officials had failed to meet the approval requirements of § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Whitley v. Williams, 393 U. S. 544. Pp. 394 U. S. 365-366.

3. The case is remanded to the District Court with directions (1) to order the prevailing NDPA candidates in Etowah, Marengo, and Sumter Counties to be treated as elected and (2) to require the officials to hold a new election in Greene County for the offices contested by NDPA candidates, whose names shall appear on the ballots. P. 394 U. S. 367.

295 F.Supp. 1003, reversed and remanded. [NOTE: For Court's action on motion to show cause why Judge Herndon should not be held in contempt, see post, p. 394 U. S. 399.]

Page 394 U. S. 360

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