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Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois

Significance, State Workers Challenge The System, Another Blow To Patronage


Cynthia Rutan, et al.


Republican Party of Illinois, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That the Republican governor of Illinois violated their First Amendment freedom of association by requiring they support the Republican Party to receive state jobs, transfers, recalls, or promotions.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Mary Lee Leahy

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Thomas P. Sullivan

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr. (writing for the Court), Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

21 June 1990


The Court found for the petitioner, expanding the First Amendment protection against dismissal from low-level government positions based on party affiliation, which had been established in two earlier cases.

Related Cases

  • West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Keyishian v. Board of Regents of University of New York, 385 U.S. 589 (1967).
  • Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976).
  • Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. 507 (1980).
  • Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 267 (1986).

Further Readings

  • Desai, Uday, and John A. Hamman. "Images and Reality in Local Government Personnel Practices." Public Administration Review, July-August 1994, pp. 391.
  • Roback, Thomas H., and Janet C. Vinzant. "The Consitution and the Patronage-merit Debate." Public Personnel Management, fall 1994, pp. 501.
  • Vinazant, Janet C., and Thomas H. Roback, "Dilemmas of Legitimacy." Administration & Society, February 1994, pp. 443.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994