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ROSARIO V. ROCKEFELLER, 410 U. S. 752 (1973)

U.S. Supreme Court

Rosario v. Rockefeller, 410 U.S. 752 (1973)

Rosario v. Rockefeller

No. 71-1371

Argued December 13, 1972

Decided March 21, 1973

410 U.S. 752


Petitioners challenge the constitutionality of New York Election Law § 186, which requires a voter to enroll in the party of his choice at least 30 days before the general election in order to vote in the next party primary. Though eligible to enroll before the previous general election, petitioners failed to do so, and were therefore ineligible to vote in the 1972 primary. The Court of Appeals, reversing the District Court, upheld the New York scheme, which it found to be a permissible deterrent against the practice of primary election "raiding" by opposing party members.

Held: New York's delayed-enrollment scheme did not violate petitioners' constitutional rights. Pp. 410 U. S. 756-762.

(a) Section 186 did not absolutely prohibit petitioners from voting in the 1972 primary, but merely imposed a time deadline on their enrollment, which they chose to disregard. Pp. 410 U. S. 756-758.

(b) The statute does not deprive voters of their right under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to associate with the party of their choice or subsequently to change to another party, provided that the statutory time limit for doing so is observed. Pp. 410 U. S. 758-759.

(c) The cut-off date for enrollment, which occurs about eight months before a presidential, and 11 months before a nonpresidential, primary, is not arbitrary when viewed in light of the legitimate state purpose of avoiding disruptive party raiding. Pp. 410 U. S. 760-761.

458 F.2d 649, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 410 U. S. 763.

Page 410 U. S. 753

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