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Hasidic Jews File Appeal Against Redistricting Ruling

A notice of appeal by the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg was filed today in federal district court here against a ruling upholding the constitutionality of a recent redistricting of State Assembly and Senate districts which the UJO had complained discriminated against the Brooklyn area’s 45,000 Hasidic Jews.

The UJO, representing more than 100 Williamsburg Jewish organizations, most of them Hasidic, had charged that the new districts, approved by the State Legislature on May 29, discriminated against Jewish residents in favor of Blacks and Puerto Ricans.

UJO officials asserted that the redistricting of the 57th Assembly District would cut the 45,000 Orthodox Jews in that district into groups of about 27,000 Jews in the new 57th district and 18,000 in the new 56th district, with similar divisions in the new 23rd and 25th state senatorial districts. They said that the redistricting would affect the political strength of the Jewish community which currently voices “the needs and goals” of the Hasidic Jews.

Federal Court Judge Walter Bruchausen ruled Friday that the redistricting did not disenfranchise the Williamsburg Jews nor take away their voting rights. “It is further well settled that there is no federal constitutional right either to continuity of compactness of voting rights,” Judge Bruchausen held in dismissing the UJO suit against Gov. Malcolm Wilson of New York, the Legislature and U.S. Attorney General William Saxbe.

SEEK EARLY HEARING OF APPEAL

Nathan Lewin of Washington, a vice-president of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA), is representing the UJO both in the original suit and in the appeal. Although Lewin is not acting in his capacity as a COLPA official, COLPA is assisting him in the case. Dennis Rapps, COLPA executive director, filed the notice of appeal today and will file tomorrow in the Court of Appeals here a motion for an early hearing of the appeal.

Lewin said that the motion to be filed tomorrow will ask that arguments be heard by the appeals court during the week of Aug. 12 because a primary election in the state will be held in September and the Hasidic voters of Williamsburg will suffer “irreparable harm” if the primary is held within the framework of the new districts.

In an affidavit accompanying the original motion for a temporary restraining order and for assignment of a three-judge court to hear the case, Lewin asserted that the Hasidic Jews were “the victims of a racial gerrymander” and that the “principal motivation” for the redistricting was “to assign a specific number of Black and Puerto Rican citizens to particular legislative districts.”

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