Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 4 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

voters by race, but that the classification survived strict scrutiny and therefore did not offend the Constitution. We now hold that the North Carolina plan does violate the Equal Protection Clause because the State's reapportionment scheme is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.

The facts are set out in detail in our prior opinion, and we shall only summarize them here. After the 1990 census, North Carolina's congressional delegation increased from 11 to 12 members. The State General Assembly adopted a reapportionment plan, Chapter 601, that included one majority-black district, District 1, located in the northeastern region of the State. 1991 N. C. Sess. Laws, ch. 601. The legislature then submitted the plan to the Attorney General of the United States for preclearance under 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 439, as amended, 42 U. S. C. 1973c (1988 ed.). The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, acting on the Attorney General's behalf, objected to the proposed plan because it failed "to give effect to black and Native American voting strength" in "the south-central to southeastern part of the state" and opined that the State's reasons for not creating a second majority-minority district appeared "to be pretextual." App. 151- 153. Duly chastened, the legislature revised its districting scheme to include a second majority-black district. 1991 N. C. Extra Sess. Laws, ch. 7. The new plan, Chapter 7, located the minority district, District 12, in the north-central or Piedmont region, not in the south-central or southeastern region identified in the Justice Department's objection letter. The Attorney General nonetheless precleared the revised plan.

By anyone's measure, the boundary lines of Districts 1 and 12 are unconventional. A map portrays the districts' deviance far better than words, see the Appendix to the opinion of the Court in Shaw I, supra, but our prior opinion describes them as follows:

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