Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 10 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U. S. 469, 491 (1989) (opinion of O'Connor, J.) ("[T]he Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . desired to place clear limits on the States' use of race as a criterion for legislative action, and to have the federal courts enforce those limitations"). While appreciating that a racial classification causes "fundamental injury" to the "individual rights of a person," Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U. S. 656, 661 (1987), we have recognized that, under certain circumstances, drawing racial distinctions is permissible where a governmental body is pursuing a "compelling state interest." A State, however, is constrained in how it may pursue that end: "[T]he means chosen to accomplish the State's asserted purpose must be specifically and narrowly framed to accomplish that purpose." Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Ed., 476 U. S. 267, 280 (1986) (opinion of Powell, J.). North Carolina, therefore, must show not only that its redistricting plan was in pursuit of a compelling state interest, but also that "its districting legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve [that] compelling interest." Miller, 515 U. S., at 920.

Appellees point to three separate compelling interests to sustain District 12: to eradicate the effects of past and present discrimination; to comply with 5 of the Voting Rights Act; and to comply with 2 of that Act. We address each in turn.4

4 Justice Stevens in dissent discerns three reasons that he believes "may have motivated" the legislators to favor the creation of the two minority districts and that he believes together amount to a compelling state interest. Post, at 941. As we explain below, a racial classification cannot withstand strict scrutiny based upon speculation about what "may have motivated" the legislature. To be a compelling interest, the State must show that the alleged objective was the legislature's "actual purpose" for the discriminatory classification, see Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U. S. 718, 730, and n. 16 (1982), and the legislature must have had a strong basis in evidence to support that justification before it implements the classification. See infra, at 910. Even if the proper factual basis existed, we believe that the three reasons Justice Stevens prof-

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