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Communist Party of Indiana v. Whitcomb - Significance, Court Strikes Law Down

william election appellant justices


The Communist Party of Indiana, certain of its officers and potential voters, and its candidates for president and vice-president in the 1972 general election


The Indiana state election board and its members

Appellant's Claim

That the state's rule requiring political parties to submit a written oath stating that they will not advocate the overthrow of the federal, state or local government by violence or force in order to be placed on an election ballot was a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Sanford Jay Rosen

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Theodore L. Sendak, Attorney General of Indiana

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr. (writing for the Court), Warren E. Burger, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

9 January 1974


That the law which forced the party to declare its non-intention to overthrow the government was unconstitutional.

Related Cases

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Button, 371 U.S. 145 (1963).
  • Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964).
  • Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964).
  • Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 523 (1968).

Further Readings

  • American Bar Association Journal, March 1974, p. 322.
  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • Indiana Law Review, Vol. 8, no. 1, p. 102.
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