Opinion of the Court

U. S. C. $ 1973b(b), $5 of the Act requires it to obtain either administrative preclearance by the Attorney General or approval by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for any change in a “standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting." 42 U. S. C. $ 1973c. The proposed change must not have the purpose or effect “of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” Ibid. The legislature submitted a plan to the Attorney General for preclearance on October 1, 1991. See Appendix to this opinion (hereinafter Appendix), fig. 1. The plan contained two majority-black districts, the Fifth and the Eleventh. Previously, Georgia had one majority-black district, the Fifth.

The Department of Justice refused preclearance of this plan in January 1992. It then refused preclearance of a second plan submitted by the legislature, also with two majority-black districts. In its second refusal, the Department of Justice cited several alternative plans proposing three majority-black districts, including one called the "max-black” plan, drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the General Assembly's black caucus. At that point, the General Assembly set out to create three majority-black districts to gain preclearance. See Appendix, fig. 2. The plan as adopted used the ACLU's max-black plan as a model. One of the three majority-black districts, the Eleventh, was a geographic "'monstrosity, stretching from Atlanta to Savannah. Its core is the plantation country in the center of the state, lightly populated, but heavily black. It links by narrow corridors the black neighborhoods in Augusta, Savannah and southern DeKalb County.”” 515 U. S., at 909 (quoting M. Barone & G. Ujifusa, Almanac of American Politics 356 (1994)). The district as so drawn served its purpose, however, which was to secure preclearance from the Department of Justice.

On November 4, 1992, elections were held under the new plan, and all three majority-black districts elected black can

Opinion of the Court

didates. In 1994, five white voters from the Eleventh District filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, alleging a racial gerrymander in the lines of the Eleventh District, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause as interpreted in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630 (1993). The District Court panel found the district invalid, with one judge dissenting. Johnson v. Miller, 864 F. Supp. 1354 (1994).

We affirmed. Miller v. Johnson, 515 U. S. 900 (1995). We rejected appellants’ argument that “regardless of the legislature's purposes, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a district's shape is so bizarre that it is unexplainable other than on the basis of race.Id., at 910. We said "the essence of the equal protection claim recognized in Shaw is that the State has used race as a basis for separating voters into districts.” Id., at 911. And we explained that “[t]he plaintiff's burden is to show, either through circumstantial evidence of a district's shape and demographics or more direct evidence going to legislative purpose, that race was the predominant factor motivating the legislature's decision to place a significant number of voters within or without a particular district.” Id., at 916.

We upheld two principal findings of the District Court indicating race was the predominant factor in constructing the Eleventh District. First, it was “'exceedingly obvious'” from the district's contorted shape, together with the relevant racial demographics, that it was designed to bring in black populations. Id., at 917 (quoting 864 F. Supp., at 1375). Second, considerable evidence-including the State's own concessions-showed that the General Assembly was driven by “a predominant, overriding desire" to create three majority-black districts to satisfy the Department of Justice. 515 U. S., at 917. The Justice Department, indeed, “'would accept nothing less than abject surrender to its maximization agenda.'” Ibid. (quoting 864 F. Supp., at 1366, n. 11).

Opinion of the Court

We then considered whether the race-based districting satisfied strict scrutiny because it was narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. As we noted, “[o]ur presumptive skepticism of all racial classifications” prohibited us “from accepting on its face the Justice Department's conclusion that racial districting is necessary under the Voting Rights Act.” 515 U. S., at 922. After reviewing the evidence, we concluded that “[i]nstead of grounding its objections on evidence of a discriminatory purpose, it would appear the Government was driven by its policy of maximizing majority-black districts.” Id., at 924.

On remand, the District Court deferred to the Georgia Legislature, giving it time to draw a new congressional map. The Governor called a special session of the General Assembly, which met from August 14 to September 12, 1995. The legislature, however, deadlocked on the congressional reapportionment plan. The Georgia House of Representatives adopted a plan with two majority-black districts, Status Report of Defendants Miller, Howard, and Cleland, Aug. 31, 1995, Record, Pleadings Vol. 11, Doc. No. 295, while the Senate adopted a plan with one, Status Report of Defendants Miller, Howard, and Cleland, Sept. 5, 1995, id., Doc. No. 300. On September 13, 1995, defendants notified the District Court that the legislature was unable to resolve its differences and had adjourned, leaving the District Court to develop a remedy.

Plaintiffs had moved to amend their complaint to challenge the Second District as unconstitutional on the same grounds as the Eleventh District, and the court received additional evidence for the purpose. None of the private defendantintervenors lived in the Second District and, assuming their lack of standing to defend it, they asked for the addition of other parties. The court disallowed the request, ruling the State could defend this aspect of the plan under review.

The court found that race was the "overriding and predominant factor” in drawing the Second District's borders. 922 Opinion of the Court

F. Supp., at 1553. The district, the court noted, split 12 of the district's 35 counties, 28 of its precincts, and numerous cities. Linda Meggers, Director of Reapportionment Services for the Georgia General Assembly, was qualified as an expert witness and testified it was not possible to create a majority-black Second District without including the black population centers in Columbus and Muscogee Counties, Albany and Dougherty Counties, and Macon and Bibb Counties, which account for most of these splits. She also testified that in constructing the Second District, she followed the ACLU's max-black plan. Id., at 1554-1555. As with the Eleventh District, the trial court found no compelling reason for the race-based districting of the Second District sufficient to survive strict scrutiny. The appellants do not appeal the determination by the trial court that the Second District as drawn could not survive scrutiny under the standards set forth in Miller, but they do say the trial court erred in not devising a second majority-black district for its own plan.

During the remedy phase, the defendants proposed a variety of plans. One was the 1991 unprecleared plan passed by the Georgia Legislature, with two majority-black districts. The Eleventh District in the 1991 plan closely resembled the Eleventh District in the precleared plan, which has been found improper. The ACLU submitted four plans. One of these, ACLU 1A, with two majority-black districts, was known as the “least change” plan because it was designed to make the minimal changes perceived to be necessary to correct constitutional defects in the existing plan. Another of the ACLU plans, Abrams A, had three majority-black districts. Abrams A split nine counties in the Second District and three in the Eleventh, and for racial reasons.

Yet another plan, Abrams С, had two majority-black districts. And a plan jointly sponsored by John Lewis, a black Democratic Member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia, and Newt Gingrich, a white Republican

Opinion of the Court

Member—the Lewis-Gingrich Amici-R plan—contained two majority-black districts. In response, it is said, to a submission by plaintiffs, the Justice Department submitted its “Illustrative Plan.” The Justice Department did not do so, however, until after the evidence closed. The plan contained two majority-black districts and split two counties outside the Atlanta area and numerous precincts. The plaintiffs objected to the submission. The District Court mentioned the Illustrative Plan in its opinion but did not give an explicit ruling on the objection. The late submission prevented the Justice Department's demographer from being cross-examined about racial motivations, and for this reason its significance must be discounted.

The District Court considered the plans submitted by the various parties and then adopted its own. See Appendix, fig. 3. Noting the Justice Department's thorough “subversion of the redistricting process” since the 1990 census, it based its plan on the State's 1972 and 1982 plans. 922 F. Supp., at 1563. The court first had to decide where to locate the new Eleventh District, and did so in an area of significant population growth near Atlanta, so as to displace the fewest counties. It then considered Georgia's traditional redistricting principles based on maintaining: district cores,

four traditional “corner districts” in the corners of the State, political subdivisions such as counties and cities, and an urban majority-black district in the Atlanta area. Protecting incumbents from contests with each other was another factor, which the court subordinated to the others because it was "inherently more political.” Id., at 1565. The District Court stated that, in fashioning a remedy, it considered the possibility of creating a second majority-black district but decided doing so would require it to “subordinate Georgia's traditional districting policies and consider race predominantly, to the exclusion of both constitutional norms and common sense.Id., at 1566. Georgia did not have a black population of sufficient concentration to allow creation

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