Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 15 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 899 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

urged by various interested parties. App. 94-138; 861 F. Supp., at 480-481, n. 9 (Voorhees, C. J., dissenting). We have recognized that a "State's policy of adhering to other districting principles instead of creating as many majority-minority districts as possible does not support an inference that the plan 'so discriminates on the basis of race or color as to violate the Constitution,' and thus cannot provide any basis under 5 for the Justice Department's objection." Miller, supra, at 924 (citations omitted).

It appears that the Justice Department was pursuing in North Carolina the same policy of maximizing the number of majority-black districts that it pursued in Georgia. See Miller, supra, at 924-925, and n. The two States underwent the preclearance processes during the same time period and the objection letters they received from the Civil Rights Division were substantially alike. App. in Miller v. Johnson, O. T. 1994, No. 94-631, pp. 99-107. A North Carolina legislator recalled being told by the Assistant Attorney General that "you have twenty-two percent black people in this State, you must have as close to twenty-two percent black Congressmen, or black Congressional Districts in this State." App. 201. See also Deposition of Senator Dennis Winner, id., at 698. We explained in Miller that this maximization policy is not properly grounded in 5 and the Department's authority thereunder. 515 U. S., at 925 ("In utilizing 5 to require States to create majority-minority districts wherever possible, the Department of Justice expanded its authority under the statute beyond what Congress intended and we have upheld"). We again reject the Department's expansive interpretation of 5. Id., at 926- 927. Cf. Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U. S. 997, 1017 (1994) ("Failure to maximize cannot be the measure of 2").6

6 The United States attempts to distinguish this suit from Miller by relying on the District Court's finding that North Carolina conducted "its own independent reassessment" of Chapter 601 and found "the Department's objection was legally and factually supportable." Brief for

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