Shaw et al. v. Hunt, Governor of North Carolina, et al.
Decided on June 13, 1996; 517 US 899


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Racial gerrymandering

B. Legal Question Presented:

Does North Carolina's redistricting plan constitute racial gerrymandering in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"Earlier in this case... 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."

On appeal the US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the US Court of Appeals.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Brief of amicus curiae urging affirmance was filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Laughlin McDonald, Neil Bradley, Steven R. Shapiro, Paul C. Saunders, Herbert J. Hansell, Barbara R. Arnwine, Thomas J. Henderson, and Brenda Wright.

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.
Robinson O. Everett and Thomas A. Farr argued the cause and filed briefs for appellants. With them on the briefs were Thomas F. Ellis, James C. Dever III, and Craig D. Mills.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"In order to justify its redistricting plan... the State must show not only that the plan was in pursuit of a compelling state interest, but also that it was narrowly tailored to achieve that interest... 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... Second, the asserted interest in complying with Section(s) 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 Section(s) 5... Third, District 12, as drawn, is not a remedy narrowly tailored to the State's professed interest in avoiding liability under Section(s) 2 of the Act, which, inter alia, prohibits dilution of the voting strength of members of a minority group...

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 US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the US Court of Appeals.

Justice Vote: 5 Con vs. 4 Pro

  • Rehnquist, W. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Scalia, A. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • O'Connor, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Thomas, C. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Kennedy, A. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stevens, J. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Souter, D. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Ginsburg, R. Pro (Joined dissenting opinions)
  • Breyer, S. Pro (Joined dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged affirmance of the Court of Appeals' judgment; the Supreme Court reversed in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.