The Illinois Election Code required the collection of 25,000 signatures from eligible voters in order for independent candidates or new political parties to appear on the ballot in elections for state offices. With respect to elections for municipal offices, the code required new parties or candidates to collect a number of signatures equal to 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the most recent municipal election. As applied to the city of Chicago, the code required new candidates to acquire a greater number of signatures for appearance on the municipal ballot than would be necessary to appear on a statewide ballot. The Socialist Workers Party (plaintiff) filed suit asserting that the Election Code, as applied to elections in the city of Chicago, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court ruled in favor of the Socialist Workers Party. The Illinois State Board of Elections (defendant) petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.