The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEN SCHROEDER, Magistrate Judge
This matter was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. Richard
J. Arcara, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), for all
pretrial matters and to hear and report upon dispositive motions.
Dkt. # 19, 99.
Currently before the Court is plaintiffs' motion to compel
defendant Frank MacKay to respond to interrogatories and document
demands and to answer deposition questions. Dkt. #155.
This action is the result of political infighting over control
of the Independence Party of Erie County ("County Party"). In
their Complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs
alleged, inter alia, that the defendants: (1) excluded certain
duly elected Independence Party Committee Members ("Committee
Members"), from participation in the organizational meeting of
the County Party on November 7, 2000 which, inter alia, defined the geographic
jurisdiction of the County Party to include those New York State
Assembly Districts which are wholly within Erie County (thereby
excluding the 147th Assembly District), and adopted
procedures for the authorization and nomination of candidates for
public office; (2) denied certain Committee Members notice of and
participation in meetings to authorize and nominate candidates
for public office; and (3) instituted proceedings before the
Independence Party of the State of New York ("State Party"),
which led to the removal of certain Committee Members. Dkt. #60.
As a result, plaintiffs complain that they were deprived of
personal and representative participation in the process by which
the County Party designated non-party candidates pursuant to New
York State Election Law § 6-120(3), thereby violating plaintiffs'
rights to vote and to freedom of speech and association as
guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Dkt. #60, ¶¶
In a Report, Recommendation & Order addressing defendants'
motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to allege state
action, which was adopted by the Hon. Richard J. Arcara, the
Court determined that political parties act under color of state
law when, pursuant to Section 6-120(3) of the Election Law, they
designate or nominate an individual who is not enrolled as a
member of such party as a candidate for any office. Dkt. #75, 99.
However, the Court noted
a clear distinction between the selection of a
nominee for public governmental office and the
conduct of the private affairs of a political
organization. Seergy, 459 F.2d at 313. "The
citizen's constitutional right to equality as an
elector . . . applies to the choice of those who
shall be his elected representatives in the conduct
of government, not in the internal management of a
political party." Lynch v. Torquato, 343 F.2d 370, 372 (3d Cir. 1964). "[T]he
normal role of party leaders in conducting internal
affairs of their party, other than primary or general
elections, does not make their party offices
governmental offices or the filling of these offices
state action." Lynch, 343 F.2d at 372. Thus, "votes
taken by the county committee in the conduct of its
internal party affairs which have no direct relation
to the electoral process" are not subject to
constitutional scrutiny. Seergy, 459 F.2d at 314.
This distinction between "public, electoral
functions," and "internal party affairs" is
imperative because political parties enjoy
constitutional protection from state interference in
the "determination of the boundaries of its own
association, and of the structure which best allows
it to pursue its political goals." Tashjian v.
Republican Party of Connecticut, 479 U.S. 208, 224
(1986); see also Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New
Party, 520 U.S. 351, 358 (1997) (political parties'
government, structure and activities enjoy
constitutional protection"); Eu v. SanFrancisco
County Democratic Central Comm., 489 U.S. 214, 230
(1989) (political parties [sic] possess [sic]
"discretion in how to organize itself, conduct its
affairs, and select its leaders").
Dkt. ##75, pp. 14-15 & 127, pp 4-5. Accordingly, the Court
determined that the
only actionable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is
whether defendants excluded either "members of the
party committee representing the political
subdivision of the office for which a designation or
nomination [was] to be made," or, if the rules of the
party provided for another committee, excluded "the
members of such other committee" from the meeting
which designated or nominated "a person as candidate
for any office who is not enrolled as a member of
such party." N.Y. Elec. Law § 6-120(3).*fn1 Dkt. #127, p. 5. The Court explicitly stated that the procedures
utilized to remove and replace allegedly disloyal Committee
Members is within the parameters of internal party affairs. Dkt.
#127, p. 12.
Plaintiffs submitted 15 document requests; Frank MacKay and the
Independence Party asserted the following objection to each of
Defendants MacKay and Independence Party objects to
this document request as it is well beyond the scope
of allowable disclosure as set forth in the decision
and order of Magistrate Judge Kenneth Schoreder, Jr.
dated January 26, 2004.
Dkt. #156, Exh. A.
Plaintiffs assert that the first nine document demands are
designed to identify actual meetings at which endorsements and
nominations occurred. Dkt. #155, p. 10. The Court notes that it
previously ordered that the defendants
provide plaintiff's counsel with all notices, agendas
and minutes of any meetings scheduled and/or
conducted by the Independence Party between
September, 2000 and September, 2002, exclusive of any
notices, agendas or minutes which relate solely to
the proceedings to remove plaintiffs as committee
members of the Independence Party
and provide a
certification under oath of a person with knowledge
of and responsibility for the business records of the
Independence Party stating that a diligent search of
defendants' records has been undertaken and that the
documents produced constitute all such records or explaining the absence
of any such records.
Dkt. #122. This Order sets forth the appropriate scope of
disclosure with respect to document demands numbered 1, 6 and 7.
Accordingly, defendants shall provide copies of all notices,
agendas and minutes of all meetings between ...