Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 7 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 461 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

Georgia's third redistricting plan, approving it in the spring of 1992. See id., at 1537.

Georgia's 1992 Senate plan was not challenged in court. See id., at 1533-1534. Its congressional districting plan, however, was challenged as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630 (1993). In 1995, we held in Miller v. Johnson that Georgia's congressional districting plan was unconstitutional because it engaged in "the very racial stereotyping the Fourteenth Amendment forbids" by making race the "predominant, overriding factor explaining" Georgia's congressional districting decisions. 515 U. S., at 928, 920. And even though it was "safe to say that the congressional plan enacted in the end was required in order to obtain preclearance," this justification did not permit Georgia to engage in racial gerrymandering. See id., at 921. Georgia's State Senate districts served as "building blocks" to create the congressional districting plan found unconstitutional in Miller v. Johnson. Johnson v. Miller, 929 F. Supp., at 1533, n. 8 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also id., at 1536.

Georgia recognized that after Miller v. Johnson, its legislative districts were unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. See 929 F. Supp., at 1533, 1540. Accordingly, Georgia attempted to cure the perceived constitutional problems with the 1992 State Senate districting plan by passing another plan in 1995. The Department of Justice refused to preclear the 1995 plan, maintaining that it retrogressed from the 1992 plan and that Miller v. Johnson concerned only Georgia's congressional districts, not Georgia's State Senate districts. See 929 F. Supp., at 1540-1541.

Private litigants subsequently brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the 1995 Senate plan. See id., at 1533. The three-judge panel of the District Court reviewing the 1995 Senate plan found that "[i]t is clear that a black maximization policy had become an integral part of the sec-


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