Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 10 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

testified that it was important to attempt to maintain a Democratic majority in the Senate because "we [African-Americans] have a better chance to participate in the political process under the Democratic majority than we would have under a Republican majority." Pl. Exh. 24, at 19. At least 7 of the 11 black members of the Senate could chair committees. See 195 F. Supp. 2d, at 41.

The plan as designed by Senator Brown's committee kept true to the dual goals of maintaining at least as many majority-minority districts while also attempting to increase Democratic strength in the Senate. Part of the Democrats' strategy was not only to maintain the number of majority-minority districts, but to increase the number of so-called "influence" districts, where black voters would be able to exert a significant—if not decisive—force in the election process. As the majority leader testified, "in the past, you know, what we would end up doing was packing. You put all blacks in one district and all whites in one district, so what you end up with is [a] black Democratic district and [a] white Republican district. That's not a good strategy. That does not bring the people together, it divides the population. But if you put people together on voting precincts it brings people together." Pl. Exh. 24, at 19.

The plan as designed by the Senate "unpacked" the most heavily concentrated majority-minority districts in the benchmark plan, and created a number of new influence districts. The new plan drew 13 districts with a majority-black voting age population, 13 additional districts with a black voting age population of between 30% and 50%, and 4 other districts with a black voting age population of between 25% and 30%. See Pl. Exh. 2C. According to the 2000 census, as compared to the benchmark plan, the new plan reduced by five the number of districts with a black voting age population in excess of 60%. Compare Pl. Exh. 1D with Pl. Exh. 2C. Yet it increased the number of majority-black voting age population districts by one, and it increased the number

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