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The amendment’s supporters said blacks had less of a voice when they were packed into districts designed to capture them, making all the other districts whiter and more Republican.

In the early 1990s, when Southern states aggressively applied the law creating majority-minority districts where possible, the Congressional Black Caucus swelled from 28 in 1991 to 44 in 1995 — and Republicans swept the House overall.

“The Voting Rights Act has become a pretext particularly with Republicans in charge for creating, really, Jim Crow districts that have resulted in maybe more African-American members of Congress,” but fewer Democrats, and therefore less power for the blacks who overwhelmingly support that party, Mr. Miller said.

Mrs. Brown, whose own future was at stake, argued that the best way to give blacks a voice was to ensure they had at least one black official from the area in Washington.