Ugly White Districts: What Should Sandy Do?

9 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2004

See all articles by Ethan J. Leib

Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law


A case recently decided by a three-judge panel in the Southern District of New York, Rodriguez v. Pataki, where plaintiffs challenge the 2002 New York State Senate redistricting plan, presents a new kind of redistricting dilemma. Rodriguez raises the issue of what to do about bizarrely-shaped white districts that are constructed or preserved using race as an obvious motivation - apparently in violation of Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993), which held ugly black districts to be violative of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause - but are adjacent to majority-minority districts that must be preserved in accordance with both Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the laws forbidding dilution and retrogression of majority-minority districts. Here, I ask what Justice Sandra Day O'Connor should do about unsightly majority white districts that are drawn principally to maintain white majorities, even if such districts also help fashion adjacent majority-minority districts required by the Voting Rights Act.

Keywords: redistricting, Shaw v. Reno, Justice O'Connor, Equal Protection

Suggested Citation

Leib, Ethan J., Ugly White Districts: What Should Sandy Do?. Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 75, Available at SSRN: or

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

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