Eric WALGREN et al., Plaintiffs,
BOARD OF SELECTMEN OF the TOWN OF AMHERST, MASS., Defendants.
United States District Court, D. Massachusetts.
*625 Eric Walgren, pro se, Thomas Lesser, Conway, Mass., for plaintiffs.
H. Theodore Cohen, Tyler & Reynolds, Donald W. Suchma, David M. Roseman, Boston, Mass., for defendants.
GARRITY, District Judge.
This is a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 involving the fixing of the dates for a primary election in January 1973 in the Town of Amherst, and the notice of election provided town residents generally, but especially to students, by the defendants. The plaintiffs originally challenged the manner in which the election was held as violative of state law, but they have now abandoned that challenge. Plaintiff Walgren is a thirty-four year old resident of the Town of Amherst who sought a seat on the Board of Selectmen, but lost, in the contested primary election. Mr. Walgren, a colorful and self-described radical, anticipated wide student support in the election. The plaintiffs Sherman and Glusco are students at colleges within the Town of Amherst who are residents thereof. The defendants Howes, Bouchard, Eddy, Sullivan and Garvey comprise the Board of Selectmen of the town. The court initially dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, but on appeal the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for trial. Walgren v. Howes, 1 Cir. 1973, 482 F.2d 95.
The plaintiffs, after several amendments, have alleged essentially two federal causes of action. First, it is claimed that the election calendar established by the defendants is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth and Twenty-sixth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States because of the effects of those dates upon students as a class and upon plaintiff Walgren. Second, the plaintiffs assert that the notice provided by the town officials was unconstitutionally deficient under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A third, pendent state cause of action alleging that the notice violated § 2 of the Caucus Act, 1955 Mass. Acts of the Legislature, Chapter 149, as amended, we dismiss as a matter of discretion under United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 1966, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S. Ct. 1130, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, because a state court should pass initially upon the requirements of notice in a complex state election statute and because the disputed election has already been held.
Pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2), Fed.R. Civ.P., the court certified a plaintiff class composed of the students, faculty and staffs of the three colleges in the Town of Amherst. Because of plaintiffs' contentions based upon the Twenty-sixth Amendment, an effort is made in this opinion to define a subclass comprising student voters 18-20 years old. At the trial, no evidence was offered concerning the numbers or circumstances of faculty and staff.
While many witnesses were heard and exhibits received at the trial without jury, it developed that few material facts were contested and there was simply no evidence to establish alleged facts that were contested. The actual issue between the parties has been the characterization to be ascribed to the events and acts of the parties and the legal consequences, if any, flowing from that characterization.
Findings of Fact
1. The town of Amherst, located in western Massachusetts, has a non-student population of 15,000-16,000. Within its borders lie the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College and Hampshire College. Amherst utilizes a representative *626 town meeting form of government, with a board of selectmen and a town manager. At the time of the instant controversy there were approximately 11,400 registered voters in the town, of whom 1587 resided in University of Massachusetts dormitories, 23 in fraternities or sororities, and 108 in University-owned apartments. Students not commuting from their homes are required to live on campus unless they are twenty-one years old, seniors, or married. Because of this the large majority of students residing in dormitories are 18-20 years old. An unknown number of university students who were registered to vote in Amherst lived off campus in apartments. There were 88 students registered to vote in Amherst living in Amherst College dormitories and 127 in Hampshire College dormitories. The voter potential at all these schools is substantially greater. The University has approximately 16,000 undergraduate and 6,000 graduate students in attendance, Amherst College 1270 students and Hampshire College 1000. However, the number of students actually registered represents a large block of roughly 3,000 voters within the town.
2. At its November 27, 1972 meeting, the board of selectmen voted a 1973 election s
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Date Created: October 30 2013 at 08:18:51.
Date Modified: April 27 2016 at 01:58:14.