In the past few years, the Supreme Court has taken notice to the subject of racial gerrymandering. On two separate occasions, the Supreme Court has struck down on this practice and ruled it unconstitutional. The first was Shaw v. Reno (1993) and the second being Miller v. Johnson (1995). These two landmark decisions attempted to discontinue the practice of racial gerrymandering. Miller v. Johnson (1995) was, like previously stated, a very important decision which struck down on racial gerrymandering. Between 1980 and 1990, only one of Georgia's ten congressional districts had a black majority. In 1990, the census indicated that the state of Georgia had a black population of 27% of the total population. This result entitled blacks to an additional eleventh congressional seat, and this, in turn, prompted Georgia's General Assembly to re-draw the state's congressional districts. The Justice Department refused pre-clearance of these new districts, so the Assembly finally succeeded in creating an additional majority-black district by forming the eleventh district. This new district, extending about 6,784 miles from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean was described as a "geographic monstrosity...The social, political, and economic makeup of the Eleventh District tells a tale of disparity, not community." This was obviously a case of racial gerrymandering.

Previously, in the Shaw v. Reno decision, the Court articulated the equal protection principles governing a State's drawing of congressional districts. The voters in Georgia's new Eleventh District, challenged the District on the ground that this was a racial gerrymander which violated the Equal Protection Clause. The question presented by the case was that whether or not racial gerrymandering of the congressional redistricting process is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause?

The Supreme Court delivered its answer. It said that yes, the congressional redistricting is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause presented in the Shaw decision. The court reasoned that in some instances, a reapportionment plan may be so highly irregular and bizarre in its shape that it must be interpreted as an effort to segregate voters based on race. The Supreme Court applied the rule which was developed in the Shaw ruling which requires strict scrutiny whenever race is the "overriding, predominant force" in reshaping the congressional districts.

This court case had several consequences. Like Shaw v. Reno it struck down racial gerrymandering as unconstitutional. It was also a ruling under the Equal Protection Clause defined under the Shaw decision, hence it set a precedent for other cases which involved racial gerrymandering. It also provided strict scrutiny when race is the sole or the strongest force when states are in the redistricting process.

Sources: and notes from Government class.

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