Jenness v. Fortson,
403 U.S. 431 (1971)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431 (1971)

Jenness v. Fortson

No. 5714

Argued March 1, 1971

Decided June 21, 1971

403 U.S. 431


Georgia law provides that any political organization whose candidate received 20% or more of the vote at the most recent gubernatorial or presidential election is a "political party." Any other political organization is a "political body." "Political parties" conduct primary elections, and the name of the winning candidate for each office is printed on the ballot. A nominee of a "political body" or an independent candidate may have his name on the ballot if he files a nominating petition signed by not less than 5% of those eligible to vote at the last election for the office he is seeking. The time for circulating the petition is 180 days, and it must meet the same deadline as a candidate in a party primary. Electors who sign a nominating petition are not restricted in any way, and there is no limitation on write-in votes on ballots.

Held: The challenge of appellants, prospective candidates and registered voters, to this election procedure was properly rejected, as it does not abridge the rights of free speech and association secured by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and is not violative of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U. S. 23, distinguished. Pp. 403 U. S. 434-442.

315 F.Supp. 1035, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. BLACK and HARLAN, JJ., concurred in the result.

Page 403 U. S. 432

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