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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Popular Democratic Party
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Facts of the Case 

In 1981, a representative of Puerto Rico's Popular Democratic Party ("Party") died in office. Searching for a replacement, the Governor of Puerto Rico held a "by-election" open to candidates of all parties. The Party challenged the Governor, alleging that under Puerto Rico statutes only candidates and electors affiliated with the Party could participate in the by-election. On appeal from a Superior Court judgment favoring the Party, Puerto Rico's Supreme Court modified the judgment holding that a by-election was only required if the party of the legislator vacating the seat fails to name a replacement within 60 days. Before Puerto Rico's Supreme Court could deliver its decision, the Party held an election open only to its members and, then, pursuant to the Supreme Court's mandate, swore in a new representative. Rodriguez appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.


Do Puerto Rico's statutes, authorizing a political party to appoint one of its own members as an interim replacement to a vacated seat, infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of association or equal protection?

Decision: 9 votes for Popular Democratic Party, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Association

No. The Court, in a unanimous opinion, began by noting that the Constitution does not compel a fixed method of selecting state or local representatives. As such, the Puerto Rican Commonwealth legislature could vest exclusive interim appointment power in parties affiliated with the previous incumbent. This scheme is particularly reasonable in light of Puerto Rico's interest in maintaining continuity of party representation until the next general election and insuring its legislature's delicate balance of minority representation.

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RODRIGUEZ v. POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
RODRIGUEZ v. POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"RODRIGUEZ v. POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,