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Macmanus v. Allan

March 29, 1949

EUGENE T. MACMANUS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD ALLAN, TOWN CLERK OF THE TOWN OF KEARNY, WILLIAM H. GILFERT, COUNTY CLERK OF THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, AND CHARLES G. MCALLISTER, DEFENDANTS



Wm. J. Brennan, Jr., J.s.c.

Brennan

Plaintiff filed his complaint on March 24th and was allowed ex parte an order to show cause with interim restraints returnable March 28. The order commanded the Hudson County Clerk, the Town Clerk of the Town of Kearny and Charles G. McAllister to show cause why the designation "Regular Republican Party, Driscoll for Governor" adopted by said McAllister, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Councilman from the First Ward of the Town of Kearny in the primary election to be held April 19, 1949 should not be declared null and void and be deleted from the sample and official ballots to be used in connection with said primary election, and why the Town and County Clerks should not be restrained from printing and distributing sample and official ballots containing said allegedly unlawful designation. The restraint enjoined printing of the ballots pending further order of the Court.

On March 28 the case was submitted on stipulated facts and is ripe for final judgment. The question for decision is the interpretation of R.S. 19:23-17 and R.S. 19:23-25.1 which together prohibit the use by a candidate of a slogan, and the printing of the slogan on the ballot, including the name of any person unless that person's written consent to the use of his name is filed with the candidate's nominating petition.

All parties accept as true that the Town Clerk must make final printing arrangements by April 4th.

Plaintiff MacManus and defendant McAllister each filed with the Town Clerk (the former on February 26 and the latter on February 25) a nominating petition for the office of First Ward Councilman. Each petition bore a designation including the name "Driscoll", but neither candidate filed with his petition the written consent of Mr. Driscoll to the use of his name. Both candidates are citizens, residents and voters of the Town of Kearny.

March 10th was the last day on which under R.S. 19:23-14 nominating petitions for this office could be filed with the Town Clerk. On March 11th Alfred E. Driscoll pursuant to R.S. 19:49-2 filed with the County Clerk a notice requesting

that his name be placed on the same line of the voting machines as are the names of candidates filing a joint petition with the designation "Regular Republican Party -- Driscoll for Governor". On that day plaintiff MacManus filed a like notice. In addition like notices bearing date March 11 were filed by a Mayoralty candidate and Councilman candidates for the nominations in other wards of the Town of Kearny.

Plaintiff MacManus' notice requested that his name be placed on the same line of the voting machines with candidates employing the designation "Regular Republican Party -- Driscoll for Governor", but his petition, filed February 26 with the Town Clerk, bore the designation "Republican, Driscoll for Governor". It was suggested on his behalf but not stipulated or otherwise proved that the Town Clerk had forced his choice of the designation endorsed on his petition by refusing him the other designation on the ground defendant McAllister had already preempted it by his petition filed a day earlier, February 25. It is unnecessary to determine this question.

Before discussing the merits, a preliminary motion by defendant McAllister to dismiss the complaint must first be considered. He argues that the proceeding is out of time because filed March 24th and cites R.S. 19:13-12; requiring that the complaint be brought at least 36 days before the election, that is, on or before March 14th. This would unquestionably be true if plaintiff's complaint were grounded on a charge setting forth "any invasion or threatened invasion of his rights" as a candidate and asking that such rights be protected and enforced. But I interpret the complaint not as seeking protection of plaintiff's rights as a candidate but as seeking to vindicate the public right to require public officials to comply with the provisions of pertinent statutes governing their responsibilities in the conduct of primary elections. It is clear that any resident and voter of the Town of Kearny may maintain this action for such purpose whether or not he has a personal interest as a candidate for office. The general subject of the right of citizens to maintain actions to review the acts of public officials is

comprehensively covered in the opinion of the Appellate Division in Haines v. Burlington County Bridge Commission , 1 N.J. Super. 163, 63 A. 2 d 284, at pages 287 and 288 (App. Div. 1949). I find that the proceeding is essentially one to test whether the Town Clerk may cause the printed ballots to carry a slogan or designation including the name "Driscoll". Viewed in that light, this is a proceeding in lieu of prerogative writ governed by Rule 3:81 and on principle and sound reason analogous to the reasoning suggested in the Haines case , the plaintiff clearly has a standing to maintain this suit.

Neither the plaintiff MacManus nor the defendant McAllister filed with his nominating petition the written consent of Mr. Driscoll to the inclusion of the Driscoll name in the designation or slogan selected by each. R.S. 19:23-17 makes the filing of such written consent a condition precedent to the inclusion by a candidate of such name in any slogan to be printed on the ballot. And since the Town Clerk is charged with making printing arrangements it is particularly germane that R.S. 19:23-25.1 forbids the ...


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