WASHINGTON (Sep. 8)
Three major civil rights groups will urge an end to discriminatory treatment of urban voters in state elections in a joint friend-of the-court brief to be submitted to the Supreme Court here Monday. The organizations acted in the first major test of what constitutes a proper standard in applying the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in apportionment of State election districts.
The three groups are the American Jewish Congress, American Civil Liberties Union and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Their brief asserts that because minority groups tend to concentrate in cities, “discrimination against the urban voter results in partial disfranchisement of minority groups.” The civil rights groups joined in calling on the court “to state unequivocally the primacy of the equal-population principle” in state legislative apportionment.
In their brief, the three organizations declared that election districts for state legislative bodies in nearly every state are “sadly askew in terms of equality of voter registration” and that “almost without exception the voters most underrepresented in their state legislatures are city dwellers.” The brief noted that recent population shifts are likely to make suburban areas the most underrepresented in their state legislatures.