Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 8 (2003)

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468

GEORGIA v. ASHCROFT

Opinion of the Court

tion 5 preclearance process . . . when the Georgia redistricting plans were under review. The net effect of the DOJ's preclearance objection[s] . . . was to require the State of Georgia to increase the number of majority black districts in its redistricting plans, which were already ameliorative plans, beyond any reasonable concept of non-retrogression." Id., at 1539-1540. The court noted that in Miller v. Johnson, we specifically disapproved of the Department of Justice's policy that the maximization of black districts was a part of the 5 retrogression analysis. See 929 F. Supp., at 1539. Indeed, in Miller, we found that the Department of Justice's objections to Georgia's redistricting plans were "driven by its policy of maximizing majority-black districts." 515 U. S., at 924. And "[i]n 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." Id., at 925.

The District Court stated that the maximization of majority-minority districts in Georgia "artificially push[ed] the percentage of black voters within some majority black districts as high as possible." 929 F. Supp., at 1536. The plan that eventually received the Department of Justice's preclearance in 1992 "represented the General Assembly's surrender to the black maximization policy of the DOJ." Id., at 1540. The court then found that the 1995 plan was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. See id., at 1543.

Under court direction, Georgia and the Department of Justice reached a mediated agreement on the constitutionality of the 1995 Senate plan. Georgia passed a new plan in 1997, and the Department of Justice quickly precleared it. The redrawn map resembled to a large degree the 1992 plan that eventually received preclearance from the Department of Justice, with some changes to accommodate the decision of this Court in Miller v. Johnson, and of the District Court in Johnson v. Miller.

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