Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993)

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630

OCTOBER TERM, 1992

Syllabus

SHAW et al. v. RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al.

appeal from the united states district court for the eastern district of north carolina

No. 92-357. Argued April 20, 1993—Decided June 28, 1993

To comply with 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—which prohibits a covered jurisdiction from implementing changes in a "standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting" without federal authorization— North Carolina submitted to the Attorney General a congressional reap-portionment plan with one majority-black district. The Attorney General objected to the plan on the ground that a second district could have been created to give effect to minority voting strength in the State's south-central to southeastern region. The State's revised plan contained a second majority-black district in the north-central region. The new district stretches approximately 160 miles along Interstate 85 and, for much of its length, is no wider than the I-85 corridor. Appellants, five North Carolina residents, filed this action against appellee state and federal officials, claiming that the State had created an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of, among other things, the Fourteenth Amendment. They alleged that the two districts concentrated a majority of black voters arbitrarily without regard to considerations such as compactness, contiguousness, geographical boundaries, or political subdivisions, in order to create congressional districts along racial lines and to assure the election of two black representatives. The three-judge District Court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the federal appellees. It also dismissed the complaint against the state appellees, finding, among other things, that, under United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburgh, Inc. v. Carey, 430 U. S. 144 (UJO), appellants had failed to state an equal protection claim because favoring minority voters was not discriminatory in the constitutional sense and the plan did not lead to proportional underrepresentation of white voters statewide.

Held: 1. Appellants have stated a claim under the Equal Protection Clause by alleging that the reapportionment scheme is so irrational on its face that it can be understood only as an effort to segregate voters into separate districts on the basis of race, and that the separation lacks sufficient justification. Pp. 639-652.

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