U.S. v. Hays

Decision Date29 June 1995
Docket Number94558
Citation515 U.S. 737,132 L.Ed.2d 635,115 S.Ct. 2431
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
PartiesUNITED STATES, Appellant, v. Ray HAYS et al. LOUISIANA, et al., Appellants, v. Ray HAYS et al
Syllabus *

Appellees claim in this litigation that Louisiana's congressional redistricting plan (Act 1) is a racial gerrymander that violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. While their claim's primary focus is District 4, a majority-minority district, appellees live in District 5. The District Court invalidated Act 1, and the State and the United States, which had precleared Act 1 pursuant to its authority under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, appealed directly to this Court.

Held: Appellees lack standing to challenge Act 1. This Court has recognized that a generalized grievance against allegedly illegal governmental conduct is insufficient to provide standing, see, e.g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 102 S.Ct. 752, 70 L.Ed.2d 700, and has applied that rule in the equal protection context, see Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 755, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 3326-3327, 82 L.Ed.2d 556. Thus, appellees' position that "anybody in the State" can state a racial gerrymander claim is rejected, and they must show that they, personally, have been subjected to a racial classification. Appellees, however, have pointed to no evidence tending to show that they have suffered personal injury, and review of the record has revealed none. Assuming arguendo that the evidence here is sufficient to state a claim under Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. ----, 113 S.Ct. 2816, 125 L.Ed.2d 511, with respect to District 4, it does not prove that the State Legislature intended District 5 to have a particular racial composition. Similarly, the fact that Act 1 affects all Louisiana voters by classifying each of them as a member of a particular congressional district does not mean that every voter has standing to challenge Act 1 as a racial classification. The Court's holding in Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 111 S.Ct. 1364, 113 L.Ed.2d 411, that an individual has the right not to be excluded from a jury on account of race does not support appellees' position. A juror so excluded has personally suffered the race-based harm recognized in Powers, and it is the fact of personal injury that appellees have failed to establish here. Pp. ____.

862 F.Supp. 119 (WD La.1994), vacated and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, SOUTER, THOMAS, and BREYER, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SOUTER, J., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. GINSBURG, J., concurred in the judgment.

Drew S. Says, III, for appellant in No. 94-558.

Richard P. Ieyoub, for appellants in No. 94-627.

Edward W. Warren for appellees.

Justice O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

We held in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. ----, 113 S.Ct. 2816, 125 L.Ed.2d 511 (1993), that a plaintiff may state a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by alleging that a State "adopted a reapportionment scheme so irrational on its face that it can be understood only as an effort to segregate voters into separate voting districts because of their race, and that the separation lacks sufficient justification." Id., at ----, 113 S.Ct., at 2832. Appellees Ray Hays, Edward Adams, Susan Shaw Singleton, and Gary Stokley claim that the State of Louisiana's congressional districting plan is such a "racial gerrymander," and that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. But appellees do not live in the district that is the primary focus of their racial gerrymandering claim, and they have not otherwise demonstrated that they, personally, have been subjected to a racial classification. For that reason, we conclude that appellees lack standing to bring this lawsuit.


Louisiana has been covered by § 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 438, as amended, 84 Stat. 315, 42 U.S.C. § 1973b(b) (VRA), since November 1, 1964, see 28 CFR pt. 51, App. The effect of such coverage is set forth in VRA § 5, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c: whenever a covered jurisdiction "shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964," it must first either obtain a declaratory judgment from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that the change "does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color," or receive "preclearance" from the Attorney General to the same effect. Any redistricting plan in Louisiana is subject to these requirements.

Accordingly, in 1991, Louisiana submitted to the Attorney General for preclearance a districting plan for its Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Louisiana's BESE districts historically have paralleled its congressional districts, so the submitted plan contained one majority-minority district (that is, a district "in which a majority of the population is a member of a specific minority group," Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. ----, ----, 113 S.Ct. 1149, 1151, 122 L.Ed.2d 500 (1993)) out of eight, as did Louisiana's congressional districting plan then in force.* The Attorney General refused to preclear the plan, claiming that Louisiana had failed to demonstrate that its decision not to create a second majority-minority district was free of racially discriminatory purpose. See Defense Exh. 17 in No. 92-1522 (WD La.) (letter from U.S. Dept. of Justice, Assistant Attorney General John Dunne, to Louisiana Assistant Attorney General Angie R. LaPlace, Oct. 1, 1991). The Attorney General subsequently precleared a revised BESE plan, which contained two majority-minority districts. See Brief for Appellants State of Louisiana et al. 3, n. 2.

As a result of the 1990 census, Louisiana's congressional delegation was reduced from eight to seven representatives, requiring Louisiana to redraw its district boundaries. Perhaps in part because of its recent experience with the BESE districts, the Louisiana Legislature set out to create a districting plan containing two majority-minority districts. See, e.g., Tr. 11 (Aug. 19, 1993). Act 42 of the 1992 Regular Session, passed in May 1992, was such a plan. One of Act 42's majority-minority districts, District 2, was located in the New Orleans area and resembled the majority-minority district in the previous district map. The other, District 4, was "[a] Z-shaped creature" that "zigzag[ged] through all or part of 28 parishes and five of Louisiana's largest cities." Congressional Quarterly, Congressional Districts in the 1990s, at 323 (1993). A map of Louisiana's congressional districts under Act 42 is attached as Appendix A. The Attorney General precleared Act 42.

Appellees Hays, Adams, Singleton, and Stokley are residents of Lincoln Parish, which is located in the north-central part of Louisiana. According to the complaint, all but Singleton reside in that part of Lincoln Parish that was contained in the majority-minority District 4 of Act 42. See Pet. for Permanent Injunction and Declaratory Judgment in No. CV 92-1522 (WD La.), p. 4. In August 1992, appellees filed suit in state court, challenging Act 42 under the state and federal Constitutions, as well as the VRA. The State removed the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, and, as required by the VRA, a three-judge court convened to hear the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284. After a two-day trial, the District Court denied appellees' request for a preliminary injunction, denied the state and federal constitutional claims, and took the VRA claims under advisement. While the case was pending, this Court decided Shaw v. Reno, whereupon the District Court revoked its prior rulings and held another two-day hearing. Focusing almost exclusively on the oddly-shaped District 4, the District Court decided that Act 42 violated the Constitution, and enjoined its enforcement. See Hays v. Louisiana, 839 F.Supp. 1188 (WD La.1993) (Hays I ).

Louisiana, and the United States as defendant-intervenor, appealed directly to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1253. While the appeal was pending, the Louisiana Legislature repealed Act 42 and enacted a new districting plan, Act 1 of the 1994 Second Extraordinary Session. The Attorney General precleared Act 1. We then vacated the District Court's judgment and remanded the case "for further consideration in light of Act 1." 512 U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 2731, 129 L.Ed.2d 853 (1994). A map of Act 1 is attached as Appendix B.

Act 1, like Act 42, contains two majority-minority districts, one of which (District 2) is again located in the New Orleans area. The second majority-minority district in Act 1, however, is considerably different from that in Act 42. While Act 42's District 4 ran in a zigzag fashion along the northern and eastern borders of the State, Act 1's District 4 begins in the northwestern part of the State and runs southeast along the Red River until it reaches Baton Rouge. For present purposes, the most significant difference between the two district maps is that in Act 42, part of Lincoln Parish was contained in District 4, while in Act 1, Lincoln Parish is entirely contained in District 5.

On remand, the District Court allowed appellees to amend their complaint to challenge Act 1's constitutionality. It then held another two-day hearing and concluded, largely for the same reasons that it had invalidated Act 42, that Act 1 was unconstitutional. See Hays v. Louisiana, 862 F.Supp. 119 (WD La.1994) (Hays II ). The court enjoined the State from conducting any elections pursuant to Act 1, substituted its own districting...

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