Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
Republican Party Of Virginia
(Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Facts of the Case 

In 1994, the Republican Party of Virginia held a state convention to nominate the Republican candidate for United States Senator. A local political committee could certify any voter as a delegate to the convention by paying a registration fee of $35 or $45. Fortis Morse, Kenneth Curtis Bartholomew, and Kimberly J. Enderson, registered voters in Virginia willing to declare their intent to support the Party's nominee, were eligible to participate. Bartholomew and Enderson refused to pay the fee and did not become delegates. Morse paid the fee with funds advanced by supporters of the eventual nominee. Moore and others then filed a complaint seeking an injunction preventing the Party from imposing the fee, alleging that that the imposition of the fee violated sections 5 and 10 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ultimately, the District Court dismissed the claims.


Does section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 require preclearance of the Republican Party of Virginia's decision to exact a fee to nominate the party's candidate for senator? Are voters permitted to challenge the fee as a poll tax prohibited by section 10?

Decision: 5 votes for Morse, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Voting Rights Act of 1965

Yes and yes. In a 5-4 plurality opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, five Justices of the Court, although unable to agree on an opinion, agreed that the party's imposition of the registration fee was subject to the preclearance requirements of section 5 and that a private right of action existed to enforce section 10. "By limiting the opportunity for voters to participate in the Party's convention, the fee undercuts their influence on the field of candidates whose names will appear on the ballot, and thus weakens the 'effectiveness' of their votes cast in the general election itself," wrote Justice Stevens for the Court. Justice Stephen G. Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the opinion, in which Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and David H. Souter joined. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy filed separate dissents. Each emphasized First Amendment concerns.

Cite this Page
MORSE v. REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2015. <>.
MORSE v. REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 27, 2015).
"MORSE v. REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2015,