Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 15 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

Judge Edwards, joined by Judge Sullivan, concurred. Judge Edwards emphasized that 5 and 2 are "procedurally and substantively distinct provisions." Id., at 97. He therefore rejected Georgia's argument that a plan preserving an equal opportunity for minorities to elect candidates of their choice satisfies 5. Judge Edwards also rejected the testimony of the black Georgia politicians who supported the Senate plan. In his view, the testimony did not address whether racial polarization was occurring in Senate Districts 2, 12, and 26. See id., at 101-102.

Judge Oberdorfer dissented. He would have given "greater credence to the political expertise and motivation of Georgia's African-American political leaders and reasonable inferences drawn from their testimony and the voting data and statistics." Id., at 102. He noted that this Court has not answered "whether a redistricting plan that preserves or increases the number of districts statewide in which minorities have a fair or reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of choice is entitled to preclearance, or whether every district must remain at or improve on the benchmark probability of victory, even if doing so maintains a minority super-majority far in excess of the level needed for effective exercise of [the] electoral franchise." Id., at 117.

After the District Court refused to preclear the plan, Georgia enacted another plan, largely similar to the one at issue here, except that it added black voters to Districts 2, 12, and 26. The District Court precleared this plan. See 204 F. Supp. 2d 4 (2002). No party has contested the propriety of the District Court's preclearance of the Senate plan as amended. Georgia asserts that it will use the plan as originally enacted if it receives preclearance.

We noted probable jurisdiction to consider whether the District Court should have precleared the plan as originally enacted by Georgia in 2001, 537 U. S. 1151 (2003), and now vacate the judgment below.


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