Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 13 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

voting age population dropped from 62.45% to 50.80%.1 Moreover, in all three of these districts, the percentage of black registered voters dropped to just under 50%. The United States also submitted expert evidence that voting is racially polarized in Senate Districts 2, 12, and 26. See id., at 69-71. The United States acknowledged that some limited percentage of whites would vote for a black candidate, but maintained that the percentage was not sufficient for black voters to elect their candidate of choice. See id., at 70-71. The United States also offered testimony from various witnesses, including lay witnesses living in the three districts, who asserted that the new contours of Districts 2, 12, and 26 would reduce the opportunity for blacks to elect a candidate of their choice in those districts; Senator Regina Thomas of District 2, the only black Senator who voted against the plan; Senator Eric Johnson, the Republican leader of the Senate; and some black legislators who voted

1 Georgia and the United States have submitted slightly different figures regarding the black voting age population of each district. The differing figures depend upon whether the total number of blacks includes those people who self-identify as both black and a member of another minority group, such as Hispanic. Georgia counts this group of people, while the United States does not do so. Like the District Court, we consider all the record information, "including total black population, black registration numbers and both [black voting age population] numbers." 195 F. Supp. 2d 25, 79 (DC 2002). We focus in particular on Georgia's black voting age population numbers in this case because all parties rely on them to some extent and because Georgia used its own black voting age population numbers when it enacted the Senate plan. Moreover, the United States does not count all persons who identify themselves as black. It counts those who say they are black and those who say that they are both black and white, but it does not count those who say they are both black and a member of another minority group. Using the United States' numbers may have more relevance if the case involves a comparison of different minority groups. Cf. Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U. S. 997 (1994); Bush v. Vera, 517 U. S. 952 (1996). Here, however, the case involves an examination of only one minority group's effective exercise of the electoral franchise. In such circumstances, we believe it is proper to look at all individuals who identify themselves as black.


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