Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 14 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

We believe the same conclusion must be drawn here. North Carolina's first plan, Chapter 601, indisputably was ameliorative, having created the first majority-black district in recent history. Thus, that plan, " 'even if [it] fall[s] short of what might be accomplished in terms of increasing minority representation,' " " 'cannot violate 5 unless the new apportionment itself so discriminates on the basis of race or color as to violate the Constitution.' " Id., at 924, quoting Days, Section 5 and the Role of the Justice Department, in B. Grofman & C. Davidson, Controversies in Minority Voting 56 (1992), and Beer v. United States, 425 U. S. 130, 141 (1976).

As in Miller, the United States relies on the purpose prong of 5 to explain the Department's preclearance objections, alleging that North Carolina, for pretextual reasons, did not create a second majority-minority district. Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 24. We again find the Government's position "insupportable." Miller, supra, at 924. The General Assembly, in its submission filed with Chapter 601, explained why it did not create a second minority district; among its goals were "to keep precincts whole, to avoid dividing counties into more than two districts, and to give black voters a fair amount of influence by creating at least one district that was majority black in voter registration and by creating a substantial number of other districts in which black voters would exercise a significant influence over the choice of congressmen." App. 142. The submission also explained in detail the disadvantages of other proposed plans. See, e. g., id., at 139, 140, 143 (Balmer Congress 6.2 Plan's "[s]econd 'minority' district did not have effective minority voting majority" because it "depended on the cohesion of black and Native American voters, and no such pattern was evident" and "this plan dramatically decreased black influence" in four other districts). A memorandum, sent to the Department of Justice on behalf of the legislators in charge of the redistricting process, provided still further reasons for the State's decision not to draw two minority districts as

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