Constitutional Law – Civil Rights – Right of Negro to Vote in State Primary Elections

The Jaybird Democratic Association was formed in Fort Bend County, Texas, in 1889. Membership was open to all white voters in the county. The association was not governed by the state statute regulating political parties. Candidates nominated by the Jaybird Party entered the Democratic county primary as individuals, not as Jaybird candidates, but those candidates won both the Democratic primary and the general election with only one exception in the entire history of the Jaybird Party. Terry, a Negro, sought a declaratory judgment and injunction permitting Negroes to vote in the Jaybird primary. The federal district court ruled that the association was a political party and that Negroes could vote in its primary. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed. On certiorari from the Supreme Court, held, the exclusion of Negroes from the Jaybird primary violates the Fifteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. Terry v. Adams, 345 U.S. 461, 73 S.Ct. 809 (1953).