United States v. Hays
515 U.S. 737

Annotate this Case

OCTOBER TERM, 1994

Syllabus

UNITED STATES v. HAYS ET AL.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

No. 94-558. Argued April 19, 1995-Decided June 29,1995*

Appellees claim in this litigation that Louisiana's congressional redistricting plan (Act 1) is a racial gerrymander that violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. While their claim's primary focus is District 4, a majority-minority district, appellees live in District 5. The District Court invalidated Act 1, and the State and the United States, which had precleared Act 1 pursuant to its authority under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, appealed directly to this Court.

Held: Appellees lack standing to challenge Act 1. This Court has recognized that a generalized grievance against allegedly illegal governmental conduct is insufficient to provide standing, see, e. g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U. S. 464, and has applied that rule in the equal protection context, see Allen v. Wright, 468 U. S. 737, 755. Thus, appellees' position that "anybody in the State" can state a racial gerrymander claim is rejected, and they must show that they, personally, have been subjected to a racial classification. Appellees, however, have pointed to no evidence tending to show that they have suffered personal injury, and review of the record has revealed none. Assuming, arguendo, that the evidence here is sufficient to state a claim under Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630, with respect to District 4, it does not prove that the state legislature intended District 5 to have a particular racial composition. Similarly, the fact that Act 1 affects all Louisiana voters by classifying each of them as a member of a particular congressional district does not mean that every voter has standing to challenge Act 1 as a racial classification. The Court's holding in Powers v. Ohio, 499 U. S. 400, that an individual has the right not to be excluded from a jury on account of race does not support appellees' position. A juror so excluded has personally suffered the race-based harm recognized in Powers, and it is the fact of personal injury that appellees have failed to establish here. Pp. 742-747.

862 F. Supp. 119, vacated and remanded.

*Together with No. 94-627, Louisiana et al. v. Hays et al., also on appeal from the same court.


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O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, SOUTER, THOMAS, and BREYER, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SOUTER, J., joined, post, p. 750. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 750. GINSBURG, J., concurred in the judgment.

Richard P. Ieyoub, Jr., Attorney General of Louisiana, argued the cause for the state appellants. With him on the briefs were Roy A. Mongrue, Jr., and Angie Rogers LaPlace, Assistant Attorneys General, and Paul R. Baier. Solicitor General Days argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Assistant Attorney General Patrick, Deputy Solicitor General Bender, Irving L. Gornstein, Jessica Dunsay Silver, and Mark L. Gross.

Edward W Warren argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Christopher Landau and Jay P. Lefkowitz. t

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court. We held in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630 (1993), that a plaintiff may state a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by alleging that a State "adopted a reapportionment scheme so irrational on its face that it can be understood only as an effort to segregate voters into separate voting districts because of their race,

tBriefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Laughlin McDonald, Neil Bradley, and Steven R. Shapiro; for the Congressional Black Caucus by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Pamela S. Karlan; for the National Bar Association et al. by Koteles Alexander and Brian J. Murphy; and for Bernadine St. Cyr et al. by Elaine R. Jones, Theodore M. Shaw, Norman J. Chachkin, Charles Stephen Ralston, Jacqueline A. Berrien, Thomas J. Henderson, Brenda Wright, J. Gerald Hebert, and Robert B. McDuff

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Pacific Legal Foundation by Anthony T. Caso and Deborah J. La Fetra; for the South Carolina Senate et al. by Mark A. Packman and Benjamin E. Griffith; and for Ruth O. Shaw et al. by Robinson O. Everett and Clifford Dougherty.

William H. Mellor III filed a brief for the Institute for Justice as amicus curiae.


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Full Text of Opinion

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