Ray v. Blair
343 U.S. 214 (1952)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Ray v. Blair, 343 U.S. 214 (1952)

Ray v. Blair

No. 649

Argued March 31, 1952

Decided April 3, 1952

Opinions filed April 15, 1952

343 U.S. 214

Syllabus

Where a state authorizes a political party to choose its nominees for Presidential Electors in a state-controlled party primary election and to fix the qualifications for the candidates, it is not violative of the Federal Constitution for the party to require the candidates for the office of Presidential Elector to take a pledge to support the nominees of the party's National Convention for President and Vice-President or for the party's officers to refuse to certify as a candidate for Presidential Elector a person otherwise qualified who refuses to take such a pledge. Pp. 343 U. S. 215-231.

1. Presidential Electors exercise a federal function in balloting for President and Vice-President, but they are not federal officers. They act by authority of the state, which, in turn, receives its authority from the Federal Constitution. Pp. 343 U. S. 224-225.

2. Exclusion of a candidate in a party primary by a state or political party because such candidate will not pledge to support the party's nominees is a method of securing party candidates in the general election who are pledged to the philosophy and leadership of that party, and it is an exercise of the state's right under Art. II, § 1, to appoint electors in such manner as it may choose. United States v. Classic,313 U. S. 299, and Smith v. Allwright,321 U. S. 649, distinguished. Pp. 343 U. S. 225-227.

3. The Twelfth Amendment does not bar a political party from requiring of a candidate for Presidential Elector in its primary a pledge to support the nominees of its National Convention. Pp. 343 U. S. 228-231.

4. The requirement of such a pledge does not deny equal protection or due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Nixon v. Herndon,273 U. S. 536, distinguished. P. 226, n 14.

257 Ala. ___, 57 So.2d 395, reversed.

The Alabama Supreme Court upheld, on federal constitutional grounds, a peremptory writ of mandamus requiring petitioner, the Chairman of the State Executive

Page 343 U. S. 215

Committee of the Democratic Party, to certify respondent as a candidate for Presidential Elector in a Democratic Primary which was to be held on May 6, 1952. 257 Ala. ___, 57 So.2d 395. This Court granted certiorari. 343 U.S. 901. In a per curiam decision announced on April 3, 1952, in advance of the preparation of this opinion, this Court reversed that judgment. 343 U. S. 154. This opinion states the reasons for that decision.

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