Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 11 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

of districts with a black voting age population of between 25% and 50% by four. As compared to the benchmark plan enacted in 1997, the difference is even larger. Under the old census figures, Georgia had 10 Senate districts with a majority-black voting age population, and 8 Senate districts with a black voting age population of between 30% and 50%. See Pl. Exh. 1C. The new plan thus increased the number of districts with a majority black voting age population by three, and increased the number of districts with a black voting age population of between 30% and 50% by another five. Compare Pl. Exh. 1C with Pl. Exh. 2C.

The Senate adopted its new districting plan on August 10, 2001, by a vote of 29 to 26. Ten of the eleven black Senators voted for the plan. 195 F. Supp. 2d, at 55. The Georgia House of Representatives passed the Senate plan by a vote of 101 to 71. Thirty-three of the thirty-four black Representatives voted for the plan. Ibid. No Republican in either the House or the Senate voted for the plan, making the votes of the black legislators necessary for passage. See id., at 41. The Governor signed the Senate plan into law on August 24, 2001, and Georgia subsequently sought to obtain preclearance.

B

Pursuant to 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a covered jurisdiction like Georgia has the option of either seeking administrative preclearance through the Attorney General of the United States or seeking judicial preclearance by instituting an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that the voting change comports with 5. 42 U. S. C. 1973c; Georgia v. United States, 411 U. S. 526 (1973). Georgia chose the latter method, filing suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the State Senate plan does not violate 5.

Georgia, which bears the burden of proof in this action, see Pleasant Grove v. United States, 479 U. S. 462 (1987), attempted to prove that its Senate plan was not retrogres-

471

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