Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 9 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

All parties here concede that the 1997 plan is the benchmark plan for this litigation because it was in effect at the time of the 2001 redistricting effort. The 1997 plan drew 56 districts, 11 of them with a total black population of over 50%, and 10 of them with a black voting age population of over 50%. See Record, Doc. No. 148, Pl. Exh. 1C (herein-after Pl. Exh.). The 2000 census revealed that these numbers had increased so that 13 districts had a black population of at least 50%, with the black voting age population exceeding 50% in 12 of those districts. See 195 F. Supp. 2d 25, 39 (DC 2002).

After the 2000 census, the Georgia General Assembly began the process of redistricting the Senate once again. No party contests that a substantial majority of black voters in Georgia vote Democratic, or that all elected black representatives in the General Assembly are Democrats. The goal of the Democratic leadership—black and white—was to maintain the number of majority-minority districts and also increase the number of Democratic Senate seats. See id., at 41-42. For example, the Director of Georgia's Legislative Redistricting Office, Linda Meggers, testified that the Senate Black Caucus " 'wanted to maintain' " the existing majority-minority districts and at the same time " 'not waste' " votes. Id., at 41.

The Vice Chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, Senator Robert Brown, also testified about the goals of the redistricting effort. Senator Brown, who is black, chaired the subcommittee that developed the Senate plan at issue here. See id., at 42. Senator Brown believed when he designed the Senate plan that as the black voting age population in a district increased beyond what was necessary, it would "pus[h] the whole thing more towards [the] Republican[s]." Pl. Exh. 20, at 24. And "correspondingly," Senator Brown stated, "the more you diminish the power of African-Americans overall." Ibid. Senator Charles Walker was the majority leader of the Senate. Senator Walker


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