race-conscious districting, voting rights


This Note analyzes the viability of race-conscious districting on two separate levels: first in terms of its efficacy as a means of empowering minority voters, and second, in light of Shaw v. Reno, which has restricted the ability of states and localities to create majority-minority districts. Part II critiques the assumptions underlying race-conscious districting and realistically evaluates the effects of such districting, concluding that despite its shortcomings, race-conscious districting has been very effective at empowering minority voters and furthering their political interests. Part III traces the history of the Voting Rights Act and how it influenced the Supreme Court's treatment of vote dilution. Part IV predicts the future of race-conscious districting in light of Shaw v. Reno. Part IV also explores the conflict between the race-conscious districting mandated by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the prohibition against unconstitutional gerrymanders under the Equal Protection Clause. Part V argues that the Supreme Court, when it revisits this issue, should treat majority-minority districts as a form of political, rather than racial gerrymandering and therefore scrutinize them under the standard set forth in Davis v. Bandemer.

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