Norman v. Reed, 502 U.S. 279 (1992)

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OCTOBER TERM, 1991

Syllabus

NORMAN et al. v. REED et al.

certiorari to the supreme court of illinois

No. 90-1126. Argued October 7, 1991—Decided January 14, 1992*

Illinois citizens wishing to establish a "new political party" may field candidates for statewide office after collecting the signatures of 25,000 eligible voters, and they may field candidates solely for offices in a large "political subdivision" upon collecting the signatures of 25,000 subdivision voters. Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 46, 10-2. However, when a subdivision comprises large separate districts from which some of its officers are elected, party organizers seeking to fill such offices must collect 25,000 signatures from each district. Ibid. A new political party becomes an "established political party" if it receives 5% of the vote in the next election, but a party that has not engaged in a statewide election can become "established" only in a subdivision where it has fielded candidates. Petitioners sought to expand the Harold Washington Party (HWP), an established party in Chicago, to Cook County, a subdivision comprising two electoral districts: a city district and a suburban district. Before the 1990 elections, they presented the county with a petition containing 44,000 signatures from the city district and 7,800 signatures from the suburban district and a slate of candidates for both at-large and district-specific seats. Respondent Reed and other voters (collectively, Reed) filed objections with the Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Board). The Board rejected Reed's claim that 10-5—which prohibits a new party from bearing an established party's name—prevented petitioners from using the HWP name, holding that 10-5's purpose was to prevent persons not affiliated with a party from latching on to its name, thus causing voter confusion and denigrating party cohesiveness, and that these dangers were not present here since one Evans—the only HWP candidate to run in Chicago's most recent election—had authorized petitioners to use the name. The Board also found that petitioners' failure to gather 25,000 signatures from the suburbs disqualified the HWP candidates wishing to run for suburban-district seats, but not those running for city-district and countywide offices, and that petitioners' failure to designate HWP candidates for judicial seats did not disqualify the entire slate. The County Circuit Court affirmed the Board's

*Together with No. 90-1435, Cook County Officers Electoral Board et al. v. Reed et al., also on certiorari to the same court.

279

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