The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOORE
This is another of the numerous cases involving legislative apportionment that have been brought in the courts following the Supreme Court's opinion in Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 82 S. Ct. 691, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663 (1962). Plaintiffs' claims arise out of the enactment of Chapter 980 of the 1961 Laws of New York, State Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 57, § 110 et seq. which established new Congressional Districts in New York State necessitated by the reduced allotment of Congressional seats for New York from 43 to 41 following the 1960 decennial census.
For their first cause of action, plaintiffs allege that in changing the old Fourth Congressional District into the new Sixth Congressional District in Queens, the Legislature consciously and purposefully excluded approximately 75-80% Of the Negro population residing in the old Fourth; that the Legislature erected a color line running for about 5 miles along the southern perimeter of the district; and that a straight boundary line running along Union Turnpike was converted into an irregular 'W' shaped area with the intention of excluding Negroes residing in the southern portion of the 'W' from the new Sixth. Upon the basis of these assertions, they claim that such a redrawing of District lines constitutes a violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the so-called Civil Rights Acts (42 U.S.C.A. § 1981, 1983).
For their second cause of action, plaintiffs allege that Chapter 980 was designed (1) on a state-wide basis to discriminate against certain citizens who are members of a particular political party to the advantage of another group of citizens who are members of the majority party in the State Legislature at the time Chapter 980 was enacted, and (2) in the Sixth Congressional District for the benefit of the present Congressional representative, Seymour Halpern. They claim that redistricting having the primary effect of advantaging a particular party is a violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
Plaintiffs further allege that they are Negro citizens residing in the old Fourth Congressional District entitled to vote therein and that they are bringing this action as a 'class suit' on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated who will be excluded from the new Sixth Congressional District.
The relief requested is that a three-judge constitutional court be convened to hear and decide the case; that the Court adjudge Chapter 980 to be unconstitutional as applied to plaintiffs and the class they represent; that the Court enter preliminary and permanent injunctions against the enforcement of the Act until such time as the New York State Legislature constitutionally redistricts; that Governor Nelson Rockefeller be enjoined from signing any bill segregating Negroes from whites or designed to advantage one political party; that Seymour Halpern and all other Congressional candidates be enjoined from running for Congressional office in the new Sixth Congressional District unless these plaintiffs and their class are permitted to vote in that election; that the Court retain jurisdiction until proper relief is granted; and that the Court grant any other or further relief as to the Court may seem just and proper.
Plaintiffs, offering no direct proof that the Legislature was motivated by racial considerations in the redistricting of the old Fourth, would have us infer this from the changes that took place. They argue that an L-shaped area in the southeastern portion of the old district, designated as 'Area A' on plaintiff's Exhibit 3 attached to their complaint, was removed in forming the new Sixth because 15,000 out of the 17,500 residents in that area were Negroes. They claim that this change resulted in the erection of a 5-mile color line running in part along the northern portion of Area A. The inclusion in the new Sixth of a rectangular ares along the southwestern boundary of the old Fourth, designated as 'Area B', which is bounded on the south by the Long Island Railroad tracks, is offered as further proof of the racial bias of the Legislature. Area B is almost exclusively white, with a heavy Negro population living south of the boundary line, at least on the eastern side of the Van Wyck Expressway. Plaintiffs also point to a W-shaped deviation from a formerly straight boundary running along Union Turnpike, designated as 'Area C'. Here 384 Negroes live along the boundary of the excised portion of the old Fourth.
Certain census population figures were offered to demonstrate the overall changes in the old Fourth and the surrounding districts. The following is a tabulation of those figures.
Negro and other
Total White non-white
District Population Population % of District Population % of District
Old 467,384 444,969 95.2% 22,415 4.8%
Old 391,403 309,046 79.0% 82,357 21.0%
Old 507,685 478,051 94.2% 29,634 5.8%
New 417,367 410,687 98.4% 6,680 1.6%
New 459,844 362,662 78.9% 97,182 21.1%
New 432,776 403,407 93.2% 29,369 6.8%
Another court has recently had occasion to review the legislative history surrounding the enactment of Chapter 980. Wright v. Rockefeller, U.S.D.C.S.D.N.Y., 211 F.Supp. 460. The legislative reports there cited make it clear that the Legislature made an effort to ensure comparative equality of representation throughout the state by using a statewide average of about 409,000 persons per district and keeping a maximum of a 15% Variation from that average. Substantial changes in these Queens districts were necessary to bring the old Sixth (now Eighth) with a population of 507,685 into line with the state average.
In our opinion, plaintiffs have not sustained their burden of proving that Chapter 980 is unconstitutional. It is impossible for us to speculate, and indeed it is not our function to do so, on why a district line turns to the right at one street and left at another. There are a myriad of possible variations in the drawing of such lines. The proof adduced at trial on the first cause of action does not support the claim of racial discrimination. Certain areas of the old Fourth other than those already mentioned, designated at trial as 'Areas D, G and H', were also removed from that district, and all of these were predominantly white. The mere fact that a substantial number of Negroes living in Area A on one of the boundaries were moved from one district into another is not sufficient basis for a conclusion on our part that it was intentional and racially motivated. Furthermore, no inference whatsoever can be drawn from the changes that took place in Area C. It would be the height of unwarranted speculation for us to find that the Legislature removed over 15,000 persons for the sole purpose of excluding 384 Negroes from the new Sixth out of a total population of some 467,000.
The long color line extending along the southerly edge of the new district for some five miles, so stressed by plaintiffs on the trial as proof of intent consists of a solid concrete abutment upon which run the tracks of the Long Island Railroad and of several large thoroughfares. This situation makes for a logical geographic dividing line even as rivers so frequently divide States or Counties. Nor is it surprising in any large Metropolitan area to find along any broad or main artery that it may have become a dividing line between national or racial groups. Yet such a thoroughfare may be a logical line of demarcation.
Not only is there no injury allegedly suffered by virtue of the redistricting, but no conceivable reason for this purported discrimination against these plaintiffs has been suggested. This case is far different from Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339, 81 S. Ct. 125, 5 L. Ed. 2d 110 (1962), urged by plaintiffs as a compelling precedent. As stated in Wright, supra:
'The Gomillion case has no application whatsoever. There some 400 Negro residents of the city of Tuskegee who were entitled to all the privileges of city residents including voting were deliberately disenfranchised from such voting by a wholly irrational drawing of new city boundaries which did not even slightly veil the obvious purpose of excluding Negroes as city voters.'
In this instance the Negroes have been deprived of nothing; they have been moved from one district where Negroes represented 6% Of the total population to another district having 23% Negroes. In substance, their claim is that the Legislature moved them to another district for no reason other than the fact that they were Negroes. Without intimating any view as to whether, if proven, this would state a cause of action under the Fourteenth Amendment, the absence of any material change in their rights, including their right to vote, negates the inference of racial discrimination that plaintiffs would have us draw.
Plaintiffs' second cause of action is a claim that Chapter 980 was designed to redistrict the entire state for the benefit of the Republican Party which has a majority in the State Legislature.
They offered the testimony of Senator Joseph Zaretski, the Minority Leader of the State Senate, to prove that the bill was passed without a public hearing and an opportunity for public debate. He also testified that although he was given a copy of the proposed legislation, he never had the opportunity to view a prepared map illustrating the district changes. Plaintiffs again point to changes in several specific districts, namely the new 1st in Suffolk County, the new 6th in Queens, the new 14th, 15th and 16th in Brooklyn and Richmond, the new 23rd and 24th in the Bronx, and the new 35th upstate as proof of legislative motive.
Chapter 980 was duly enacted by the requisite majority of the State Legislature.
There is no proof that the rules of the Legislature were not properly followed. Although a copy of a proposed bill normally must be submitted to the members three days before a vote, this is not the case in an extraordinary session such as the one at which Chapter 980 was enacted. Neither is there any evidence that the majority was not aware of ...