OCTOBER TERM, 1994SyllabusMILLER ET AL. v. JOHNSON ET AL.APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THESOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIANo. 94-631. Argued April 19, 1995-Decided June 29, 1995*In Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630, this Court articulated the equal protectionprinciples that govern a State's drawing of congressional districts, noting that laws that explicitly distinguish between individuals on racialgrounds fall within the core of the Equal Protection Clause's prohibitionagainst race-based decisionmaking, that this prohibition extends to lawsneutral on their face but unexplainable on grounds other than race, andthat redistricting legislation that is so bizarre on its face that it is unexplainable on grounds other than race demands the same strict scrutinygiven to other state laws that classify citizens by race. Georgia's mostrecent congressional districting plan contains three majority-black districts and was adopted after the Justice Department refused to preclear,under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act (Act), two earlier plans that eachcontained only two majority-black districts. Appellees, voters in thenew Eleventh District-which joins metropolitan black neighborhoodstogether with the poor black populace of coastal areas 260 miles awaychallenged the district on the ground that it was a racial gerrymanderin violation of the Equal Protection Clause as interpreted in Shaw. TheDistrict Court agreed, holding that evidence of the state legislature'spurpose, as well as the district's irregular borders, showed that racewas the overriding and predominant force in the districting determination. The court assumed that compliance with the Act would be a compelling interest, but found that the plan was not narrowly tailored tomeet that interest since the Act did not require three majority-blackdistricts.Held Georgia's congressional redistricting plan violates the Equal Protection Clause. Pp. 910-928.(a) Parties alleging that a State has assigned voters on the basis ofrace are neither confined in their proof to evidence regarding a district'sgeometry and makeup nor required to make a threshold showing ofbizarreness. A district's shape is relevant to Shaw's equal protectionanalysis not because bizarreness is a necessary element of the constitu*Together with No. 94-797, Abrams et al. v. Johnson et al., and No.94-929, United States v. Johnson et al., also on appeal from the samecourt.

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Syllabustional wrong or a threshold requirement of proof, but because it may bepersuasive circumstantial evidence that race for its own sake, and notother districting principles, was a legislature's dominant and controllingrationale in drawing district lines. In some exceptional cases, a reapportionment plan may be so highly irregular that, on its face, it rationally cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to segregatevoters based on race, but where the district is not so bizarre, partiesmay rely on other evidence to establish race-based districting. Thevery stereotypical assumptions the Equal Protection Clause forbids underlie the argument that the Clause's general proscription on race-baseddecisionmaking does not obtain in the districting context because redistricting involves racial consideration. While redistricting usually implicates a political calculus in which various interests compete for recognition, it does not follow that individuals of the same race share a singlepolitical interest. Nor can the analysis used to assess the vote dilutionclaim in United Jewish Organizationsof Williamsburgh,Inc. v. Carey,430 U. S. 144, be applied to resuscitate this argument. Pp. 910-915.(b) Courts must exercise extraordinary caution in adjudicating claimsthat a State has drawn race-based district lines. The plaintiff mustshow, whether through circumstantial evidence of a district's shape anddemographics or more direct evidence of legislative purpose, that racewas the predominant factor motivating the legislature's decision to placea significant number of voters within or without a district. To makethis showing, a plaintiff must prove that the legislature subordinatedtraditional race-neutral districting principles, including but not limitedto compactness, contiguity, respect for political subdivisions or communities defined by actual shared interests, to racial considerations.Pp. 915-917.(c) The District Court applied the correct analysis here, and its finding that race was the predominant factor motivating the EleventhDistrict's drawing was not clearly erroneous. It need not be decidedwhether the district's shape, standing alone, was sufficient to establishthat the district is unexplainable on grounds other than race, for thereis considerable additional evidence showing that the state legislaturewas motivated by a predominant, overriding desire to create a thirdmajority-black district in order to comply with the Justice Department'spreclearance demands. The District Court's well-supported findingjustified its rejection of thq various alternative explanations offered forthe district. Appellants cannot refute the claim of racial gerrymandering by arguing the legislature complied with traditional districting principles, since those factors were subordinated to racial objectives. Norare there tangible communities of interest spanning the district's hundreds of miles that can be called upon to rescue the plan. Since race

MILLER v. JOHNSONSyllabuswas the predominant, overriding factor behind the Eleventh District'sdrawing, the State's plan is subject to strict scrutiny and can be sustained only if it is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling stateinterest. Pp. 917-920.(d) While there is a significant state interest in eradicating the effectsof past racial discrimination, there is little doubt that Georgia's trueinterest was to satisfy the Justice Department's preclearance demands.Even if compliance with the Act, standing alone, could provide a compelling interest, it cannot do so here, where the district was not reasonablynecessary under a constitutional reading and application of the Act. Tosay that the plan was required in order to obtain preclearance is not tosay that it was required by the Act's substantive requirements. Georgia's two earlier plans were ameliorative and could not have violated § 5unless they so discriminated on the basis of race or color as to violatethe Constitution. However, instead of grounding its objections on evidence of a discriminatory purpose, the Justice Department appears tohave been driven by its maximization policy. In utilizing § 5 to requireStates to create majority-minority districts whenever possible, the Department expanded its statutory authority beyond Congress' intent for§5: to insure that no voting-procedure changes would be made thatwould lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities withrespect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise. The policyalso raises serious constitutional concerns because its implicit commandthat States may engage in presumptive unconstitutional race-based districting brings the Act, once upheld as a proper exercise of Congress'Fifteenth Amendment authority, into tension with the FourteenthAmendment. Pp. 920-927.864 F. Supp. 1354, affirmed and remanded.KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST,C. J., and O'CONNOR, ScALA, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., fileda concurring opinion, post, p. 928. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion,post, p. 929. GINSBURG, J., ified a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENSand BREYER, JJ., joined, and in which SOUTER, J., joined except as to PartIII-B, post, p. 934.David F. Walbert, Special Assistant Attorney General ofGeorgia, argued the cause for the state and private appellants. With him on the briefs for appellants Miller et al.were Michael J Bowers, Attorney General, and Dennis R.Dunn, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Solicitor General Days argued the cause for the United States. With

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the Courthim on the briefs were Assistant Attorney General Patrick,Deputy Solicitor General Bender, James A. Feldman, Steven H. Rosenbaum, and Miriam R. Eisenstein. LaughlinMcDonald, Neil Bradley, Elaine R. Jones, Theodore M.Shaw, Norman J Chachkin, Jacqueline A. Berrien, andGerald R. Weber filed briefs for appellants Abrams et al.A. Lee Parks argued the cause for appellees. With himon the brief was Larry H. Chesin.tdelivered the opinion of the Court.The constitutionality of Georgia's congressional redistricting plan is at issue here. In Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630(1993), we held that a plaintiff states a claim under the EqualProtection Clause by alleging that a state redistricting plan,on its face, has no rational explanation save as an effort toseparate voters on the basis of race. The question we nowdecide is whether Georgia's new Eleventh District gives riseto a valid equal protection claim under the principles anJUSTICE KENNEDYtBriefs of amici curiaeurging reversal were filed for the State of Texaset al. by Dan Morales, Attorney General of Texas, Jorge Vega, First Assistant Attorney General, and Renea Hicks, State Solicitor, and MichaelF. Easley, Attorney General of North Carolina; for the CongressionalBlack Caucus by A Leon Higginbotham,Jr.; for the Democratic NationalCommittee et al. by Wayne Arden and Donald J Simon; for the GeorgiaAssociation of Black Elected Officials by Eben Moglen and PamelaS. Karlan; for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law by MichaelA Cooper, Herbert J Hansell, Thomas J Henderson, Brenda Wright, JGerald Hebert, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, and Alan E. Kraus; for theMexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund et al. by CharisseR. Lillie, Karen Narasaki, Wade Henderson, Dennis Courtland Hayes,Kim Gandy, Deborah Ellis, Rodney G. Gregory, Elliot Mincberg, andDonna R. Lenhoff; and for the National Voting Rights Institute byJaminRaskin.Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were fied for the AntiDefamation League by F Peter Phillips, Jeffrey P. Sinensky, Steven M.Freeman,Debbie N. Kaminer,and MartinE. Karlinsky; for the Washington Legal Foundation et al. by Daniel J. Popeo and Richard A Samp; andfor Ruth 0. Shaw et al. by Robinson 0. Everett and Clifford Dougherty.William C. Owens, Jr., filed a brief for A. J. Pate as amicus curiae.

MILLER v. JOHNSONOpinion of the Courtnounced in Shaw, and, if so, whether it can be sustainednonetheless as narrowly tailored to serve a compellinggovernmental interest.IAThe Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that no State shall "deny to any person withinits jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U. S.Const., Amdt. 14, § 1. Its central mandate is racial neutrality in governmental decisionmaking. See, e. g., Loving v.Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, 11 (1967); McLaughlin v. Florida,379U. S. 184, 191-192 (1964); see also Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954). Though application of this imperative raises difficult questions, the basic principle is straightforward: "Racial and ethnic distinctions of any sort areinherently suspect and thus call for the most exacting judicial examination .This perception of racial and ethnicdistinctions is rooted in our Nation's constitutional and demographic history." Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438U. S. 265, 291 (1978) (opinion of Powell, J.). This rule obtainswith equal force regardless of "the race of those burdenedor benefited by a particular classification." Richmond v.J A. Croson Co., 488 U. S. 469, 494 (1989) (plurality opinion)(citations omitted); id., at 520 (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment) ("I agree. with JUSTICE O'CONNOR'S conclusion thatstrict scrutiny must be applied to all governmental classification by race"); see also Adarand Constructors, Inc. v.Pefia, ante, at 224; Bakke, supra, at 289-291 (opinion of Powell, J.). Laws classifying citizens on the basis of race cannotbe upheld unless they are narrowly tailored to achieving acompelling state interest. See, e. g., Adarand, ante, at 227;Croson, supra,at 494 (plurality opinion); Wygant v. JacksonBd. of Ed., 476 U. S. 267, 274, 280, and n. 6 (1986) (pluralityopinion).

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the CourtIn Shaw v. Reno, supra, we recognized that these equalprotection principles govern a State's drawing of congressional districts, though, as our cautious approach there discloses, application of these principles to electoral districtingis a most delicate task. Our analysis began from the premise that "[f]aws that explicitly distinguish between individuals on racial grounds fall within the core of [the Equal Protection Clause's] prohibition." Id., at 642. This prohibitionextends not just to explicit racial classifications, but also tolaws neutral on their face but "'unexplainable on groundsother than race."' Id., at 644 (quoting Arlington Heights v.MetropolitanHousingDevelopment Corp., 429 U. S.252, 266(1977)). Applying this basic equal protection analysis in thevoting rights context, we held that "redistricting legislationthat is so bizarre on its face that it is 'unexplainable ongrounds other than race,' . demands the same close scrutiny that we give other state laws that classify citizens byrace." 509 U. S., at 644 (quoting Arlington Heights, supra,at 266).This litigation requires us to apply the principles articulated in Shaw to the most recent congressional redistrictingplan enacted by the State of Georgia.BIn 1965, the Attorney General designated Georgia a covered jurisdiction under §4(b) of the Voting Rights Act (Act),79 Stat. 438, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1973b(b). 30 Fed.Reg. 9897 (1965); see 28 CFR pt. 51, App.; see also City ofRome v. United States, 446 U. S.156, 161 (1980). In consequence, § 5 of the Act requires Georgia to obtain either administrative preclearance by the Attorney General or approval by the United States District Court for the Districtof Columbia of any change in a "standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting" made after November 1, 1964.42 U. S. C. § 1973c. The preclearance mechanism applies to

MILLER v. JOHNSONOpinion of the Courtcongressional redistricting plans, see, e. g., Beer v. UnitedStates, 425 U. S. 130, 133 (1976), and requires that the proposed change "not have the purpose and will not have theeffect of denying or abridging the right to vote on accountof race or color." 42 U. S. C. § 1973c. "[T]he purpose of § 5has always been to insure that no voting-procedure changeswould be made that would lead to a retrogression in theposition of racial minorities with respect to their effectiveexercise of the electoral franchise." Beer, supra, at 141.Between 1980 and 1990, one of Georgia's 10 congressionaldistricts was a majority-black district, that is, a majority ofthe district's voters were black. The 1990 Decennial Censusindicated that Georgia's population of 6,478,216 persons, 27%of whom are black, entitled it to an additional eleventh congressional seat, App. 9, prompting Georgia's General Assembly to redraw the State's congressional districts. Both theHouse and the Senate adopted redistricting guidelineswhich, among other things, required single-member districtsof equal population, contiguous geography, nondilution of minority voting strength, fidelity to precinct lines where possible, and compliance with §§2 and 5 of the Act, 42 U. S. C.§§ 1973, 1973c. See App. 11-12. Only after these requirements were met did the guidelines permit drafters to consider other ends, such as maintaining the integrity of political subdivisions, preserving the core of existing districts, andavoiding contests between incumbents. Id., at 12.A special session opened in August 1991, and the GeneralAssembly submitted a congressional redistricting plan to theAttorney General for preclearance on October 1, 1991. Thelegislature's plan contained two majority-minority districts,the Fifth and Eleventh, and an additional district, the Second, in which blacks comprised just over 35% of the votingage population. Despite the plan's increase in the numberof majority-black districts from one to two and the absenceof any evidence of an intent to discriminate against minorityvoters, 864 F. Supp. 1354, 1363, and n. 7 (SD Ga. 1994), the

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the CourtDepartment of Justice refused preclearance on January 21,1992. App. 99-107. The Department's objection letternoted a concern that Georgia had created only two majorityminority districts, and that the proposed plan did not "recognize" certain minority populations by placing them in amajority-black district. Id., at 105, 105-106.The General Assembly returned to the drawing board. Anew plan was enacted and submitted for preclearance. Thissecond attempt assigned the black population in CentralGeorgia's Baldwin County to the Eleventh District and increased the black populations in the Eleventh, Fifth, andSecond Districts. The Justice Department refused preclearance again, relying on alternative plans proposing threemajority-minority districts. Id., at 120-126. One of thealternative schemes relied on by the Department was theso-called "max-black" plan, 864 F. Supp., at 1360, 1362-1363,drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) forthe General Assembly's black caucus. The key to theACLU's plan was the "Macon/Savannah trade." The denseblack population in the Macon region would be transferredfrom the Eleventh District to the Second, converting theSecond into a majority-black district, and the Eleventh District's loss in black population would be offset by extendingthe Eleventh to include the black populations in Savannah.Id., at 1365-1366. Pointing to the General Assembly's refusal to enact the Macon/Savannah swap into law, the JusticeDepartment concluded that Georgia had "failed to explainadequately" its failure to create a third majority-minoritydistrict. App. 125. The State did not seek a declaratoryjudgment from the District Court for the District of Columbia. 864 F. Supp., at 1366, n. 11.Twice spurned, the General Assembly set out to createthree majority-minority districts to gain preclearance. Id.,at 1366. Using the ACLU's "max-black" plan as its benchmark, id., at 1366-1367, the General Assembly enacted aplan that

MILLER v. JOHNSONOpinion of the Court"bore all the signs of [the Justice Department's] involvement: The black population of Meriwether County wasgouged out of the Third District and attached to theSecond District by the narrowest of land bridges; Effingham and Chatham Counties were split to make wayfor the Savannah extension, which itself split the City ofSavannah; and the plan as a whole split 26 counties, 23more than the existing congressional districts." Id., at1367.See Appendix A, infra, following p. 928. The new plan alsoenacted the Macon/Savannah swap necessary to create athird majority-black district. The Eleventh District lost theblack population of Macon, but picked up Savannah, therebyconnecting the black neighborhoods of metropolitan Atlantaand the poor black populace of coastal Chatham County,though 260 miles apart in distance and worlds apart in culture. In short, the social, political, and economic makeup ofthe Eleventh District tells a tale of disparity, not community.See 864 F. Supp., at 1376-1377, 1389-1390; Plaintiff's Exh.No. 85, pp. 10-27 (report of Timothy G. O'Rourke, Ph.D.).As the appendices to this opinion attest,"[t]he populations of the Eleventh are centered aroundfour discrete, widely spaced urban centers that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and stretch thedistrict hundreds of miles across rural counties and narrow swamp corridors." 864 F. Supp., at 1389 (footnoteomitted)."The dense population centers of the approved EleventhDistrict were all majority-black, all at the periphery ofthe district, and in the case of Atlanta, Augusta andSavannah, all tied to a sparsely populated rural core byeven less populated land bridges. Extending fromAtlanta to the Atlantic, the Eleventh covered 6,784.2square miles, splitting eight counties and five municipalities along the way." Id., at 1367 (footnote omitted).

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the CourtThe Almanac of American Politics has this to say aboutthe Eleventh District: "Geographically, it is a 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 blackneighborhoods in Augusta, Savannah and southern DeKalbCounty." M. Barone & G. Ujifusa, Almanac of AmericanPolitics 356 (1994). Georgia's plan included three majorityblack districts, though, and received Justice Departmentpreclearance on April 2, 1992. Plaintiff's Exh. No. 6; see864 F. Supp., at 1367.Elections were held under the new congressional redistricting plan on November 4, 1992, and black candidates wereelected to Congress from all three majority-black districts.Id., at 1369. On January 13, 1994, appellees, five white voters from the Eleventh District, filed this action against various state officials (Miller Appellants) in the United StatesDistrict Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Id., at1369, 1370. As residents of the challenged Eleventh District, all appellees had standing. See United States v. Hays,ante, at 744-745. Their suit alleged that Georgia's EleventhDistrict was a racial gerrymander and so a violation of theEqual Protection Clause as interpreted in Shaw v. Reno. Athree-judge court was convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C.§ 2284, and the United States and a number of Georgia residents intervened in support of the defendant-state officials.A majority of the District Court panel agreed that theEleventh District was invalid under Shaw, with one judgedissenting. 864 F. Supp. 1354 (1994). After sharp criticism of the Justice Department for its use of partisan advocates in its dealings with state officials and for its close cooperation with the ACLU's vigorous advocacy of minoritydistrict maximization, the majority turned to a careful interpretation of our opinion in Shaw. It read Shaw to requirestrict scrutiny whenever race is the "overriding, predominant force" in the redistricting process. 864 F. Supp., at

MILLER v. JOHNSONOpinion of the Court1372 (emphasis deleted). Citing much evidence of the legislature's purpose and intent in creating the final plan, as wellas the irregular shape of the district (in particular severalappendages drawn for the obvious purpose of putting blackpopulations into the district), the court found that race wasthe overriding and predominant force in the districting determination. Id., at 1378. The court proceeded to applystrict scrutiny. Though rejecting proportional representation as a compelling interest, it was willing to assume thatcompliance with the Act would be a compelling interest.Id., at 1381-1382. As to the latter, however, the court foundthat the Act did not require three majority-black districts,and that Georgia's plan for that reason was not narrowlytailored to the goal of complying with the Act. Id., at1392-1393.Appellants filed notices of appeal and requested a stay ofthe District Court's judgment, which we granted pending thefiling and disposition of the appeals in this litigation, Millerv. Johnson, 512 U. S. 1283 (1994). We later noted probablejurisdiction. 513 U. S. 1071 (1995); see 28 U. S. C. § 1253.IIAFinding that the "evidence of the General Assembly'sintent to racially gerrymander the Eleventh District isoverwhelming, and practically stipulated by the partiesinvolved," the District Court held that race was thepredominant, overriding factor in drawing the Eleventh District. 864 F. Supp., at 1374; see id., at 1374-1378. Appellants do not take issue with the court's factual finding of thisracial motivation. Rather, they contend that evidence of alegislature's deliberate classification of voters on the basis ofrace cannot alone suffice to state a claim under Shaw. Theyargue that, regardless of the legislature's purposes, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a district's shape is so bizarre thatit is unexplainable other than on the basis of race, and that

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the Courtappellees failed to make that showing here. Appellants'conception of the constitutional violation misapprehends ourholding in Shaw and the equal protection precedent uponwhich Shaw relied.Shaw recognized a claim "analytically distinct" from avote dilution claim. 509 U. S., at 652; see id., at 649-650.Whereas a vote dilution claim alleges that the State hasenacted a particular voting scheme as a purposeful device"to minimize or cancel out the voting potential of racial orethnic minorities," Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U. S. 55, 66 (1980)(citing cases), an action disadvantaging voters of a particularrace, the essence of the equal protection claim recognized inShaw is that the State has used race as a basis for separatingvoters into districts. Just as the State may not, absentextraordinary justification, segregate citizens on the basis ofrace in its public parks, New Orleans City Park Improvement Assn. v. Detiege, 358 U. S. 54 (1958) (per curiam),buses, Gayle v. Browder, 352 U. S. 903 (1956) (per curiam),golf courses, Holmes v. Atlanta, 350 U. S. 879 (1955) (percuriam), beaches, Mayor of Baltimore v. Dawson, 350 U. S.877 (1955) (per curiam), and schools, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), so did we recognize in Shawthat it may not separate its citizens into different voting districts on the basis of race. The idea is a simple one: "At theheart of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection liesthe simple command that the Government must treat citizens'as individuals, not "as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class."'" Metro Broadcasting,Inc.v. FCC, 497 U. S. 547, 602 (1990) (O'CONNOR, J., dissenting)(quoting Arizona Governing Comm. for Tax Deferred Annuity and Deferred Compensation Plans v. Norris, 463 U. S.1073, 1083 (1983)); cf. NortheasternFla.Chapter,AssociatedGen. Contractors of America v. Jacksonville, 508 U. S. 656,666 (1993) ("'injury in fact'" was "denial of equal treatment. not the ultimate inability to obtain the benefit"). Whenthe State assigns voters on the basis of race, it engages in

MILLER v. JOHNSONOpinion of the Courtthe offensive and demeaning assumption that voters of a particular race, because of their race, "think alike, share thesame political interests, and will prefer the same candidatesat the polls." Shaw, supra, at 647; see Metro Broadcasting,supra,at 636 (KENNEDY, J., dissenting). Race-based assignments "embody stereotypes that treat individuals as theproduct of their race, evaluating their thoughts and effortstheir very worth as citizens-according to a criterion barredto the Government by history and the Constitution." MetroBroadcasting,supra, at 604 (O'CONNOR, J., dissenting) (citation omitted); see Powers v. Ohio, 499 U. S. 400, 410 (1991)("Race cannot be a proxy for determining juror bias orcompetence"); Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U. S. 429, 432 (1984)("Classifying persons according to their race is more likelyto reflect racial prejudice than legitimate public concerns;the race, not the person, dictates the category"). Theyalso cause society serious harm. As we concluded in Shaw:"Racial classifications with respect to voting carry particular dangers. Racial gerrymandering, even for remedial purposes, may balkanize us into competing racialfactions; it threatens to carry us further from the goalof a political system in which race no longer mattersa goal that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendmentsembody, and to which the Nation continues to aspire.It is for these reasons that race-based districting byour state legislatures demands close judicial scrutiny."Shdw, supra, at 657.Our observation in Shaw of the consequences of racial stereotyping was not meant to suggest that a district must bebizarre on its face before there is a constitutional violation.Nor was our conclusion in Shaw that in certain instances adistrict's appearance (or, to be more precise, its appearancein combination with certain demographic evidence) can giverise to an equal protection claim, 509 U. S., at 649, a holdingthat bizarreness was a threshold showing, as appellants be-

Cite as: 515 U. S. 900 (1995)Opinion of the Courtlieve it to be. Our circumspect approach and narrow holdingin Shaw did not erect an artificial rule barring acceptedequal protection analysis in other redistricting cases.Shape is relevant not because bizarreness is a necessary ele-.ment of the constitutional wrong or a threshold requirementof proof, but because it may be persuasive circumstantial evidence that race for its own sake, and not other districtingprinciples, was the legislature's dominant and controlling rationale in drawing its district lines. The logical implication,as courts applying Shaw have recognized, is that parties mayrely on evidence other than bizarreness to establish racebased districting. See Shaw v. Hunt, 861 F. Supp. 408, 431(EDNC 1994); Hays v. Louisiana, 839 F. Supp. 1188, 1195(WD La. 1993), vacated, 512 U. S. 1230 (1994); but see DeWittv. Wilson, 856 F. Supp. 1409, 1413 (ED Cal. 1994).Our reasoning in Shaw compels this conclusion. Werecognized in Shaw that, outside the districting context,statutes are subject to strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause not just when they contain express racialclassifications, but also when, though race neutral on theirface, they are motivated by a racial purpose or object. 509U. S., at 644. In the rare case, where the effect of government action is a pattern "'unexplainable on grounds otherthan race,'" ibid. (quoting Arlington Heights, 429 U. S., at266), "[tlhe evidentiary inquiry is. relatively easy," Arlington Heights, supra, at 266 (footnote omitted). As early asYick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356 (1886), the Court recognized tha

him on the briefs were Assistant Attorney General Patrick, Deputy Solicitor General Bender, James A. Feldman, Ste-ven H. Rosenbaum, and Miriam R. Eisenstein. Laughlin McDonald, Neil Bradley, Elaine R. Jones, Theodore M. Shaw, Norman J Chachkin, Jacqueline A. Berrien, and