Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 83 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 952 (1996)


racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise. See, e. g., Miller, 515 U. S., at 926. The problem with appellants' contention that this "nonretrogression" principle applies because Harris County previously contained a congressional district in which African-American voters always succeeded in selecting African-American representatives is that it seeks to justify not maintenance, but substantial augmentation, of the African-American population percentage, which has grown from 40.8% in the previous district to 50.9% in District 18. Nonretrogression is not a license for the State to do whatever it deems necessary to ensure continued electoral success; it merely mandates that the minority's opportunity to elect representatives of its choice not be diminished, directly or indirectly, by the State's actions. District 18 is not narrowly tailored to the avoidance of 5 liability. See Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630, 655. Pp. 982-983. 4. Various of the dissents' arguments, none of which address the specifics of this suit, and which have been rebutted in other decisions, must be rejected. Pp. 983-986.

Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, concluded that application of strict scrutiny in this suit was never a close question, since this Court's decisions have effectively resolved that the intentional creation of majority-minority districts, by itself, is sufficient to invoke such scrutiny. See, e. g., Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña, 515 U. S. 200, 227 (strict scrutiny applies to all government classifications based on race); Miller v. Johnson, 515 U. S. 900, 918-919 (Georgia's concession that it intentionally created majority-minority districts was sufficient to show that race was a predominant, motivating factor in its redistricting). DeWitt v. Wilson, 515 U. S. 1170, distinguished. Application of strict scrutiny is required here because Texas has readily admitted that it intentionally created majority-minority districts and that those districts would not have existed but for its affirmative use of racial demographics. Assuming that the State has asserted a compelling state interest, its redistricting attempts were not narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. Pp. 999-1003.

O'Connor, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Kennedy, J., joined. O'Connor, J., also filed a separate concurring opinion, post, p. 990. Kennedy, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 996. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Scalia, J., joined, post, p. 999. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 1003. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 1045.


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