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WRIGHT V. ROCKEFELLER, 376 U. S. 52 (1964)

U.S. Supreme Court

Wright v. Rockefeller, 376 U.S. 52 (1964)

Wright v. Rockefeller

No. 96

Argued November 19, 1963

Decided February 17, 1964

376 U.S. 52


Appellants, voters in the four congressional districts in Manhattan Island, brought suit before a three-judge District Court challenging the constitutionality of part of New York's 1961 congressional apportionment statute. They charged that, in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment, irregularly shaped districts were drawn with racial considerations in mind, resulting in one district which excluded non-white citizens and those of Puerto Rican origin, who were largely concentrated in one of the other districts.

Held: Finding of District Court that appellants had failed to show that the challenged part of the apportionment act was a "state contrivance" to segregate on the basis of race or place of origin, that the New York Legislature was motivated by racial considerations or that, in fact, it drew the districts on racial lines was not clearly erroneous. Pp. 376 U. S. 53-58.

(a) Where the evidence was "equally, or more, persuasive" that racial considerations had not motivated the State Legislature than that such considerations had motivated the Legislature, the findings of the District Court that the appellants had failed to prove their case will not be disturbed. Pp. 376 U. S. 56-57.

(b) The high concentration in one area of colored and Puerto Rican voters made it difficult to draw districts to approximate an equal division of these groups among the districts, even assuming that to be permissible. P. 376 U. S. 57.

211 F.Supp. 460 affirmed.

Page 376 U. S. 53

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