Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 76 (1996)

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Souter, J., dissenting

to justify the disruption that even a modified Shaw would invite, there is presently no good reason that the Court's withdrawal from the presently untenable state of the law should not be complete. While I take the commands of stare decisis very seriously, the problems with Shaw and its progeny are themselves very serious. The Court has been unable to provide workable standards, the chronic uncertainty has begotten no discernible reliance, and the costs of persisting doubt about the limits of state discretion and state responsibility are high.

There is, indeed, an added reason to admit Shaw's failure in providing a manageable constitutional standard and to allow for some faith in the political process. That process not only evolved the very traditional districting principles that the Court has pledged to preserve, but has applied them in the past to deal with ethnicity in a way that should influence our thinking about the prospects for race. It is difficult to see how the consideration of race that Shaw condemns (but cannot avoid) is essentially different from the consideration of ethnicity that entered American politics from the moment that immigration began to temper regional homogeneity. Recognition of the ethnic character of neighborhoods and incumbents, through the application of just those districting principles we now view as traditional, allowed ethnically identified voters and their preferred candidates to enter the mainstream of American politics, see Miller, supra, at 944-945 (Ginsburg, J., dissenting); D. Judd, The Politics of American Cities: Private Power and Public Policy 70 (3d ed. 1988); see generally S. Erie, Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840-1985 (1988), and to attain a level of political power in American democracy. The result has been not a state regime of ethnic apartheid, but ethnic participation and even a moderation of ethnicity's divisive effect in political practice. For although consciousness of ethnicity has not disappeared from the

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