One of the most prominent proponents of the view that the ability of many whites to represent Blacks interests better than Blacks lowers the necessity for the creation of Black majority districts is Professor Carol Swain.8   However, at the outset, it is necessary to make a critical distinction. One reason for the election of a Black representative for a Black population is utilitarian in the sense that there is the expectation that such a person, being from the cultural group in question, is familiar with its interests and, therefore, is better able to represent those interests, provided that the person has the skills to do so.

     Justice O'Connor and others have imputed the need to focus on race with respect to representation, identity and other aspects of cultural unity as a negative impediment to "color-blindness," and therefore, a barrier to the achievement of a society that reflects this value. Yet, O'Connor's view is wholly subjective and without evidence, since racial representation is often powerful in itself as a symbolic referent for society to measure the progress of inclusion. One cynical observer says of Justice O'Connor's perspective on this issue:

"The Court's decision is truly a color-blind one. It has a vision of what politics must be. A person who 'happens to be African American' can be elected to office, but no African American person can be elected to office for the purpose of representing African American people. African American people as such can have no representation. They do not exist but such districts might cause them to exist. To recognize race is immoral and racist."9

     While, this observation may launch Justice O'Connor's thinking into the outer limits, let us, however, focus on both the utilitarian and descriptive reasons here that refute the Court's position.

     Substantive Representation: The business of substantive representation is enacting legislation that conforms to the interests of constituents and there has been a question as to whether or not the presence of Blacks elected from Black minority districts (BMDs) has enhanced that goal.

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November 1999