In 1992, the state of Georgia (defendant) submitted a redistricting plan for state congressional districts to the Department of Justice for preapproval in accordance with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Department rejected the redistricting plan on grounds that the plan only created two districts in which members of minority groups constituted the majority of voters. The state submitted a revised plan, which was again rejected. The state submitted a third plan developed around a redistricting scheme proposed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Designing the redistricting plan according to the proposed scheme required drawing new district lines in a fashion that split more than two dozen counties and the city of Savannah into different districts. The Department approved the third plan. In the next election following adoption of the redistricting plan, African-American candidates were elected in each of the three majority African-American districts created by the new plan. A group of five white voters from one of the majority African-American districts (plaintiffs) filed suit against state officials in the federal district court. The voters claimed that the redistricting plan violated the Fourteenth Amendment because the only rational explanation for the layout of district boundaries was to partition voters on the basis of race. The district court held that the redistricting plan constituted a racial gerrymander and ruled in favor of the complaining voters. The state petitioned the Supreme Court for review.