Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 19 (1996)

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

Opinion of the Court

the compact Gingles district, as long as racially polarized voting exists where the district is ultimately drawn. Tr. of Oral Arg. 50-51, 54-56.

We find this position singularly unpersuasive. We do not see how a district so drawn would avoid 2 liability. If a 2 violation is proved for a particular area, it flows from the fact that individuals in this area "have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice." 42 U. S. C. 1973(b). The vote-dilution injuries suffered by these persons are not remedied by creating a safe majority-black district somewhere else in the State. For example, if a geographically compact, cohesive minority population lives in south-central to southeastern North Carolina, as the Justice Department's objection letter suggested, District 12 that spans the Piedmont Crescent would not address that 2 violation. The black voters of the south-central to southeastern region would still be suffering precisely the same injury that they suffered before District 12 was drawn. District 12 would not address the professed interest of relieving the vote dilution, much less be narrowly tailored to accomplish the goal.

Arguing, as appellees do and the District Court did, that the State may draw the district anywhere derives from a misconception of the vote-dilution claim. To accept that the district may be placed anywhere implies that the claim, and hence the coordinate right to an undiluted vote (to cast a ballot equal among voters), belongs to the minority as a group and not to its individual members. It does not. See 1973 ("the right of any citizen").9

9 This does not mean that a 2 plaintiff has the right to be placed in a majority-minority district once a violation of the statute is shown. States retain broad discretion in drawing districts to comply with the mandate of 2. Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U. S. 146, 156-157 (1993); Growe v. Emison, 507 U. S. 25, 32-37 (1993).


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