Abrams v. Johnson, 521 U.S. 74, 22 (1997)

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ABRAMS et al. v. JOHNSON et al.

appeal from the united states district court for the southern district of georgia

No. 95-1425. Argued December 9, 1996—Decided June 19, 1997*

The electoral district lines for Georgia's congressional delegation are here a second time, appeal now being taken from the District Court's rulings and determinations on remand after Miller v. Johnson, 515 U. S. 900, in which this Court affirmed the finding that the State's Eleventh District was unconstitutional because race was a predominant factor in its drawing, id., at 915-917. The plan challenged contained three majority-black districts, and after remand the complaint was amended to challenge another of these, the then-Second District, which the trial court found was also improperly drawn under Miller. The court deferred to Georgia's Legislature to draw a new plan, but the legislature could not reach agreement. The court then drew its own plan, containing but one majority-black district, the Fifth; this Court declined to stay the order; and the 1996 general elections were held under it. The appellants, various voters and the United States, now seek to set the trial court's plan aside, claiming that it does not adequately take into account the interests of Georgia's black population.

Held: The District Court's redistricting plan is not unconstitutional.

Pp. 79-101. (a) The trial court did not exceed its remedial power under the general rule of Upham v. Seamon, 456 U. S. 37, 43 (per curiam), whereby courts drawing voting district lines must be guided by the legislative policies underlying the existing plan, to the extent they do not lead to violations of the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Act). Appellants' argument that this rule required the trial court to adopt three majority-black districts, as in the 1992 plan at issue in Miller, or two such districts, as in the Georgia Legislature's original 1991 plan, is unavailing, given the background against which the legislature—and later the trial court—attempted to draw districts. The considerable evidence of Justice Department pressure on Georgia to create the maximum number of majority-black districts, leading the state legislature to act based on an overriding concern with race, disturbed any sound basis for the trial court to defer to the 1991 plan; the unconstitutional pre-

*Together with No. 95-1460, United States v. Johnson et al., also on appeal from the same court.

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