517 U.S. 899 (1996), 94-923, Shaw v. Hunt

Docket Nº:Case No. 94-923
Citation:517 U.S. 899, 116 S.Ct. 1894, 135 L.Ed.2d 207, 64 U.S.L.W. 4437
Party Name:SHAW et al. v. HUNT, GOVERNOR OF NORTH CAROLINA, et al.
Case Date:June 13, 1996
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 899

517 U.S. 899 (1996)

116 S.Ct. 1894, 135 L.Ed.2d 207, 64 U.S.L.W. 4437

SHAW et al.

v.

HUNT, GOVERNOR OF NORTH CAROLINA, et al.

Case No. 94-923

United States Supreme Court

June 13, 1996[*]

Argued December 5, 1995

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA

Syllabus

Earlier in this suit, in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, this Court held that appellants, whose complaint alleged that North Carolina had deliberately segregated voters by race when it created two bizarre-looking majority-black congressional districts, Districts 1 and 12, had stated a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court remanded for further consideration by the District Court, which held that, although the North Carolina redistricting plan did classify voters by race, the classification survived strict scrutiny, and therefore was constitutional, because it was narrowly tailored to further the State's compelling interests in complying with §§ 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Held:

1. Only the two appellants who live in District 12 have standing to continue this lawsuit, and only with respect to that district. The remaining appellants, who do not reside in either of the challenged districts and have not provided specific evidence that they personally were assigned to their voting districts on the basis of race, lack standing. See United States v. Hays, 515 U.S. 737. P. 904.

2. The North Carolina plan violates the Equal Protection Clause because the State's reapportionment scheme is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. Pp. 904-918.

(a) Strict scrutiny applies when race is the "predominant" consideration in drawing district lines such that "the legislature subordinates race-neutral districting principles . . . to racial considerations." Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 916. The District Court's finding that the North Carolina General Assembly "deliberately drew" District 12 so that it would have an effective voting majority of black citizens, when read in the light of the evidence as to the district's shape and demographics and the legislature's objective, comports with the Miller standard. In order to justify its redistricting plan, therefore, the State must show not only that the plan was in pursuit of a compelling

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state interest, but also that it was narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. Id., at 920. Pp. 904-908.

(b) None of the three separate "compelling interests" to which appellees point suffices to sustain District 12. First, the District Court found that the State's claimed interest in eradicating the effects of past discrimination did not actually precipitate the use of race in the redistricting plan, and the record does not establish that that finding was clearly erroneous. Second, the asserted interest in complying with § 5 of the Voting Rights Act did not justify redistricting here, since creating an additional majority-black district, as urged by the Justice Department before it granted preclearance, was not required under a correct reading of § 5. See Miller, 515 U.S., at 921. This Court again rejects the Department's expansive reading of § 5 and of its own authority thereunder as requiring States to maximize the number of majority-minority districts wherever possible. See, e. g., id., at 925. Third, District 12, as drawn, is not a remedy narrowly tailored to the State's professed interest in avoiding liability under § 2 of the Act, which, inter alia, prohibits dilution of the voting strength of members of a minority group. District 12 could not remedy any potential § 2 violation, since the minority group must be shown to be "geographically compact" to establish § 2 liability, see, e. g., Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 50, and it cannot reasonably be suggested that District 12 contains a "geographically compact" population of any race. Appellees are singularly unpersuasive when they argue that a majority-minority district may be drawn anywhere if there is a strong basis in evidence for concluding that a § 2 violation exists somewhere in the State. A district so drawn could not avoid § 2 liability, which targets vote-dilution injury to individuals in a particular area, not to the minority as a group. Just as in Miller, this Court does not here reach the question whether compliance with the Act, on its own, can be a compelling state interest under the proper circumstances. Pp. 908-918.

861 F.Supp. 408, reversed.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined as to Parts II, III, IV, and V, post, p. 918. Souter, J., filed a dissenting statement, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 951.

Robinson O. Everett argued the cause and filed briefs for appellants in No. 94-923.

Page 901

Thomas A. Farr argued the cause and filed briefs for appellants in No. 94-924. With him on the briefs were Thomas F. Ellis, James C. Dever III, and Craig D. Mills.

Edwin M. Speas, Jr., Senior Deputy Attorney General of North Carolina, argued the cause for appellees Hunt et al. in both cases. With him on the brief for state appellees were Michael F. Easley, Attorney General, and Tiare B. Smiley, Special Deputy Attorney General. Julius L. Chambers argued the cause for appellees Gingles et al. in both cases. With him on the brief were Anita S. Hodgkiss, Adam Stein, James E. Ferguson II, Elaine R. Jones, Theodore M. Shaw, Norman J. Chachkin, and Jacqueline A. Berrien.

Deputy Solicitor General Bender argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Days, Assistant Attorney General Patrick, Beth S. Brinkmann, Steven H. Rosenbaum, and Miriam R. Eisenstein. [


]

Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit is here for a second time. In Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993) (Shaw I), we held that plaintiffs whose complaint alleged that the deliberate segregation of voters into separate and bizarre-looking districts on the basis of race stated a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We remanded the case for further consideration by the District Court. That court held that the North Carolina redistricting plan did classify

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voters by race, but that the classification survived strict scrutiny and therefore did not offend the Constitution. We now hold that the North Carolina plan does violate the Equal Protection Clause because the State's reapportionment scheme is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.

The facts are set out in detail in our prior opinion, and we shall only summarize them here. After the 1990 census, North Carolina's congressional delegation increased from 11 to 12 members. The State General Assembly adopted a reapportionment plan, Chapter 601, that included one majority-black district, District 1, located in the northeastern region of the State. 1991 N. C. Sess. Laws, ch. 601. The legislature then submitted the plan to the Attorney General of the United States for preclearance under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 439, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c (1988 ed.). The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, acting on the Attorney General's behalf, objected to the proposed plan because it failed "to give effect to black and Native American voting strength" in "the south-central to southeastern part of the state" and opined that the State's reasons for not creating a second majority-minority district appeared "to be pretextual." App. 151-153. Duly chastened, the legislature revised its districting scheme to include a second majority-black district. 1991N. C. Extra Sess. Laws, ch. 7. The new plan, Chapter 7, located the minority district, District 12, in the north-central or Piedmont region, not in the south-central or southeastern region identified in the Justice Department's objection letter. The Attorney General nonetheless precleared the revised plan.

By anyone's measure, the boundary lines of Districts 1 and 12 are unconventional. A map portrays the districts' deviance far better than words, see the Appendix to the opinion of the Court in Shaw I, supra, but our prior opinion describes them as follows:

Page 903

"The first of the two majority-black districts . . . is somewhat hook shaped. Centered in the northeast portion of the State, it moves southward until it tapers to a narrow band; then, with finger-like extensions, it reaches far into the southern-most part of the State near the South Carolina border . . . .

"The second majority-black district, District 12, is even more unusually shaped. It is approximately 160 miles long and, for much of its length, no wider than the [Interstate]-85 corridor. It winds in snakelike fashion through tobacco country, financial centers, and manufacturing areas 'until it gobbles in enough enclaves of black neighborhoods.' " Shaw I, supra, at 635-636 (citation omitted).

Five North Carolinians commenced the present action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against various state officials.[1] Following our reversal of the District Court's dismissal of their complaint in Shaw I, the District Court allowed a number of individuals to intervene, 11 on behalf of the plaintiffs and 22 for the defendants. After a 6-day trial, the District Court unanimously found "that the Plan's lines were deliberately drawn to produce one or more districts of a certain racial composition." 861 F.Supp. 408, 417, 473-474 (1994). A majority of the court held that the plan was...

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