Where a problem presented on appeal is capable of repetition, yet evading review, the United States Supreme Court will not dismiss the appeal on mootness grounds.
Independent candidates for offices of presidential electors from Illinois, brought a suit against appellees, members of the Illinois Electoral Board. Appellants, challenging the constitutionality of Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 46, para. 10-3 (1967) and seeking declaratory relief and an injunction. The statute provided that nominating petitions for independent candidates had to have 25,000 signatures, including 200 signatures from each of at least 50 of the State's 102 counties. Appellants' petitions contained over 25,000 signatures but not from 200 voters from each of the 50 counties. The Board ruled that appellants could not be certified for the 1968 election. Of the State's registered voters, 93.4 percent resided in the 49 most populous counties, and only 6.6 percent were in the remaining 53 counties. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Independent candidates appealed the dismissal. The Board sought dismissal of the appeal, arguing that since the 1968 election had been held, the case was moot.
Was the case moot?
The Court overturned the district court's dismissal, holding that the case was not moot. A burden that was placed on nominations controlled future elections. Thus, the problem was capable of repetition, yet evading review. The law applied a rigid, arbitrary formula to rural counties and populous counties alike. Thus, by discriminating against residents of populous counties in favor of rural sections, it violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In so holding, the Court overruled MacDougall v. Green, 335 U.S. 281, as being out of line with its recent apportionment cases.