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Despite repeated constitutional attacks upon multimember legislative districts, the Court has consistently held that they are not unconstitutional per se, e.g., White v. Regester, 412 U. S. 755; Whitcomb v. Chavis, supra; Kilgarlin v. Hill, 386 U. S. 120; Burns v. Richardson, 384 U. S. 73; Fortson v. Dorsey, 379 U. S. 433. The Court has made clear that a court, in formulating an apportionment plan as an exercise of its equity powers should, as a general rule, not permit multimember legislative districts. '[S]ingle-member districts are to be preferred in court-ordered legislative reapportionment plans unless the court can articulate a 'singular combination of unique factors' that justifies a different result. Mahan v. Howell, 410 U. S. 315, 410 U. S. 333.' Connor v. Finch, 431 U. S. 407, 431 U. S. 415. Such legislative apportionments could violate the Fourteenth Amendment if their purpose were invidiously to minimize or cancel out the voting potential of racial or ethnic minorities. See White v. Regester, supra; Whitcomb v. Chavis, supra; Burns v. Richardson, supra; Fortson v. Dorsey, supra. To prove such a purpose, it is not enough to show that the group allegedly discriminated against has not elected representatives ...

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