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DAHL v. REPUBLICAN STATE COMM.

October 26, 1970

Dr. Allen DAHL, Lyle Einhaus, Dr. Frank J. Rigos, Kenneth Rogstad, Dr. Richard Clark, Dennis G. Hagen, Selmer Thorp, and Dr. Charles R. Wolfe, Plaintiffs,
v.
The REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE; and C. Montgomery Johnson, Chairman, Defendants. James Michael RYHERD and Paul Pedersen, Intervening Plaintiffs, v. The DEMOCRATIC STATE COMMITTEE and Neale Chaney, Chairman, Additional and Third Party Defendants


Alfred T. Goodwin, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOODWIN

ALFRED T. GOODWIN, District Judge:

 This is a companion case to Maxey v. Washington State Democratic Committee, 319 F. Supp. 673 (W.D. Wash. 1970), and has the same factual background. Plaintiffs are the Republican and Democratic chairmen of the King County Central Committees and certain precinct committeemen. They are aggrieved by the unrepresentative composition of their respective state committees. Action is brought under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and jurisdiction is vested in this court by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and (4). Joint motions for summary judgment were heard upon the filing of an agreed statement of facts.

 Like the plaintiffs in Maxey, these plaintiffs allege that their voting rights have been infringed by the state committees. However, unlike the Maxey case, no challenge is here made to the delegate-selection formula used by the state committees to apportion delegates to the county and state conventions which elect national convention delegates. Rather, this action is a direct attack upon the composition of the state committees themselves, and involves a challenge to the constitutionality of RCW 29.42.020. The statute reads as follows:

 
"The state committee of each major political party shall consist of one committeeman and one committeewoman from each county elected by the county committee at its organization meeting. It shall have a chairman and vice chairman who must be of opposite sexes."

 Plaintiffs contend that the "countyunit" basis for electing the state committees dilutes their votes because the committee is a crucial and integral part of the state-created presidential election process. If a party's state committee is an integral part of the process, the plaintiffs contend that committee formation falls within the ambit of the one-man-one-vote principle and the present statutory selection method violates that principle.

 This action was originally brought before a three-judge district court convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. The theory was that the plaintiffs were seeking to restrain a "state officer," specifically the defendant C. Montgomery Johnson, from enforcing RCW 29.42.020. The action in its original form attacked the statute both on its face and as applied, and also contained an allegation that the delegate-selection formulas used by the state committees violated the one-man-one-vote principle. Defendant challenged the propriety of convening the three-judge court, on the ground that the defendant was not a "state officer" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2281.

 In April of 1968, the three-judge court ruled that the challenged statute was constitutional and refused to pass on the delegate-selection formula. A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim was granted, and leave to amend was allowed. In June 1968, the three-judge court reaffirmed its holding that the statute was constitutional and again declined to rule on the delegate-selection formula, in the belief that such a challenge should be brought before a single federal judge. The plaintiffs appealed directly to the Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of the statute. On January 20, 1969, the Court, citing Moody v. Flowers, 387 U.S. 97, 87 S. Ct. 1544, 18 L. Ed. 2d 643 (1967), reversed and remanded for entry of a "fresh decree" which could be appealed to the Court of Appeals if plaintiffs so desired. Dahl v. Republican State Committee, 393 U.S. 408, 89 S. Ct. 680, 21 L. Ed. 2d 629 (1969). A three-judge panel was deemed inappropriate because the defendant was not a "state officer" as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2281.

 Plaintiffs are now before a single judge and have reargued their attack upon the statute. After the remand by the Supreme Court, plaintiffs Ryherd and Pedersen were allowed to intervene and the Democratic State Committee was joined as a defendant.

 In its present posture, this action now presents a direct attack upon the constitutionality of RCW 29.42.020. Plaintiffs no longer challenge any delegate-selection formula, past, present, or future. See, for such a case, Maxey v. Washington State Democratic Committee, 319 F. Supp. 673 (W.D. Wash. 1970), decided this day.

 This court's opinion with respect to the preliminary questions of standing, justiciability and state action is set forth in the decision in the Maxey case and will not be repeated here.

 On the merits, I have considered all of the relevant authorities, including those Supreme Court decisions which have come down after the June 1968 Memorandum Order of the three-judge court upholding the constitutionality of RCW 29.42.020. I have concluded that the statute is constitutional. Accordingly, the action must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

 I decided in Maxey that the state-created election process begins when the state committee calls the state convention and allocates delegates to the county party organizations. It follows that the election process has not yet commenced when the state committees are being organized.

 Plaintiffs have argued here that the election process begins with the election of the state committees because those committees play an important role in the nominating phase of the presidential-election process. Having made this assumption, they then rely upon Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368, 83 S. Ct. 801, 9 L. Ed. 2d 821 (1963), and Hadley v. Junior College District, 397 U.S. 50, 90 S. Ct. 791, 25 L. Ed. 2d 45 (1970), for the proposition that the state committees are unconstitutional. I have concluded, however, that plaintiffs' basic assumption is incorrect. The election of the state committee is not an integral phase of the presidential-election process. National-convention delegates could be ...


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