A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals here yesterday upheld the constitutionality of the federal "equal time" statute that covers candidates and said the law does not permit an exception for television news reporters who are running for office.
"The 'equal opportunities' rule does not extinguish anyone's
right to run for office," Judge Robert H. Bork, President Reagan's nominee for the Supreme Court, wrote for the three-judge panel in
a case brought by a California
television reporter who sought
to run for a local elective of- fice.
The television station, KOVR in Sacramento, Calif., told the reporter, William Branch, that if he sought election to the Loomis town council he would have to go on unpaid leave during the campaign and would not be assured that he would be rehired at the end of the campaign.
The station calculated that based on the average of three minutes Branch appeared on its newcasts each day that a total of 33 hours of "equal time" would be required to meet the provisions of the federal statute.
" . . . Nobody has ever thought that a candidate has a right to run for office and at the same time to avoid all personal sacrifice . . . . The Hatch Act requires government employes to resign from work if they wish to run for certain political offices," Bork wrote.