In The

Supreme Court of the United States




Decided June 29, 1995

Justice O’Connor, Concurring


Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), was a United States Supreme Court case concerning "affirmative gerrymandering/racial gerrymandering", where racial minority-majority electoral districts are created during redistricting to increase minority Congressional representation.

Topic: Civil Rights*Court vote: 5–4
Note: No other Justices joined this opinion.
Holding: Georgia's congressional redistricting plan violates the Equal Protection Clause.
Citation: 515 U.S. 900 Docket: 94–631Audio: Listen to this case's oral arguments at Oyez

* As categorized by the Washington University Law Supreme Court Database

Next opinion >< Previous opinion

DISCLAIMER: Only United States Reports are legally valid sources for Supreme Court opinions. The text below is provided for ease of access only. If you need to cite the exact text of this opinion or if you would like to view the opinions of the other Justices in this case, please view the original United States Report at the Library of Congress or Justia. The Sandra Day O'Connor Institute does not in any way represent, warrant, or guarantee that the text below is accurate."


JUSTICE O'CONNOR, concurring.

I understand the threshold standard the Court adoptsthat "the legislature subordinated traditional race-neutral districting principles... to racial considerations," ante, at 916-to be a demanding one. To invoke strict scrutiny, a plaintiff must show that the State has relied on race in substantial disregard of customary and traditional districting practices. Those practices provide a crucial frame of reference and therefore constitute a significant governing principle in cases of this kind. The standard would be no different if a legislature had drawn the boundaries to favor some other ethnic group; certainly the standard does not treat efforts to create majority-minority districts less favorably than similar efforts on behalf of other groups. Indeed, the driving force behind the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment was the desire to end legal discrimination against blacks.

Application of the Court's standard does not throw into doubt the vast majority of the Nation's 435 congressional districts, where presumably the States have drawn the boundaries in accordance with their customary districting principles. That is so even though race may well have been


Georgia Congressional Districts (1992)


People Per Square Mile D Oto 10

D 10to 100

1,000 to 10,000

• 10,000 to 100,000

100,000 to 1,000,000

Population Density Map

11th Congressional District of Georgia



considered in the redistricting process. See Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630, 646 (1993); ante, at 916. But application of the Court's standard helps achieve Shaw's basic objective of making extreme instances of gerrymandering subject to meaningful judicial review. I therefore join the Court's opinion.


100 to 1,000

Supreme Court icon marking end of opinion

Header photo: United States Supreme Court. Credit: Patrick McKay / Flickr - CC.