Ruling Upheld Giving Parties New Clout

From a Times Staff Writer

In a move that gives new clout to county and state political parties, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that declared unconstitutional a California law prohibiting political parties from endorsing candidates in primary elections.

Justice Thurgood Marshall, writing for the court, said the state had failed to offer any strong reason for limiting the free speech rights of party officials.

A district judge in San Francisco and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier struck down the party regulations, calling them "a form of paternalism" that is not permitted under the First Amendment. In an 8-0 ruling, the high court upheld the lower court decisions (March Fong Eu vs. San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee, 87-1269).

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