[121 NJSuper Page 432] This is an action of novel impression for a declaratory judgment brought by plaintiffs as representatives of a class comprised of all registered members of the Democratic Party of Morris County eligible to vote in Democratic primary elections and all persons eligible for nomination for candidacy to elective office. Defendant is the Morris County Democratic Committee. The relief sought, to be determined on cross-motions for summary judgment, concerns a by-law adopted by defendant which establishes a candidate screening committee alleged by plaintiff to be in violation of N.J.S.A. 19:34-52.
The court determined that a proper resolution of the issue presented necessitated a review of the constitutionality of N.J.S.A. 19:34-52. The Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, refusing to enter the action on his own initiative, was made a party-defendant, the amended complaint alleging he was empowered by law to enforce the provisions of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes (N.J.S.A. 19:1-1 et seq). A motion by the Attorney General to dismiss the complaint as to him was denied by this court. On interlocutory appeal the Appellate Division reversed (Docket A-1573-71, March 16, 1972), stating that no claim for relief was made against the Attorney General and that no challenge was directed to the constitutionality of the statute. Accordingly, this court will not consider the constitutionality of N.J.S.A. 19:34-52.
To require defendant to operate under the proposed by-law before plaintiffs can test the validity of the action would tarnish the candidate and perhaps even upset the results of a primary election. The matter, therefore, is ripe for declaratory interpretation. N.J.S.A. 2A:16-50 et seq.
The following facts were stipulated to by the parties:
Plaintiffs AILEEN CAVANAGH and DAVID RAMSEY are residents and taxpayers of the Borough of Chatham and County of Morris. They are registered members of the Democratic Party as such is defined and established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:23-45.
Plaintiffs bring this action on their own behalf and on behalf of other persons similarly situated pursuant to R. 4:32-1, et seq. The class which plaintiffs represent is composed of all registered Democrats in the County of Morris who are eligible to vote in Democratic primary elections and all persons woh are eligible for nomination for candidacy to elective office. The rights of the plaintiffs and the class they represent will be in the future affected by the action of the defendant, MORRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE. These persons are so numerous that the joinder of all members of the class is impracticable. There are questions of law and fact common to the class. The claims of the representative parties are typical of the claims of the class. The representative parties will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class. An adjudication with respect to the representative plaintiffs would, as a practical matter, be dispositive of the other interests of the class not herein named who are not parties to this action.
Defendant, MORRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE, is a statutorily created body established pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:5-3 consisting of members chosen pursuant to the statutory authority as aforesaid and is a county committee within the language, meaning, and intent of the statutory authority as aforesaid.
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:5-3, the defendant, MORRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE, has authority and power to adopt a constitution and by-laws for its proper government.
On or about March 31, 1970, the defendant, MORRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE, adopted revised by-laws including a provision which states in part:
ARTICLE 5. CANDIDATE SCREENING COMMITTEE
A candidate Screening Committee shall be established consisting of representatives from each municipality, Democratic officials who hold office won in a General Election in all or any part of Morris County and the Executive Committee. Advance public notice shall be made of all meetings ...