Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 87 (1996)

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

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

200, 213 (1995); cf. post, at 999-1000, 1002-1003 (Thomas, J., concurring in judgment) (assimilating our redistricting cases to Adarand). For strict scrutiny to apply, the plaintiffs must prove that other, legitimate districting principles were "subordinated" to race. Miller, 515 U. S., at 916. By that, we mean that race must be "the predominant factor motivating the legislature's [redistricting] decision." Ibid. (emphasis added). We thus differ from Justice Thomas, who would apparently hold that it suffices that racial considerations be a motivation for the drawing of a majority-minority district. See post, at 1002.

The present suit is a mixed motive suit. The appellants concede that one of Texas' goals in creating the three districts at issue was to produce majority-minority districts, but they also cite evidence that other goals, particularly incumbency protection (including protection of "functional incumbents," i. e., sitting members of the Texas Legislature who had declared an intention to run for open congressional seats), also played a role in the drawing of the district lines. The record does not reflect a history of " 'purely race-based' " districting revisions. Cf. Miller, supra, at 918 (emphasis added). A careful review is, therefore, necessary to determine whether these districts are subject to strict scrutiny. But review of the District Court's findings of primary fact and the record convinces us that the District Court's determination that race was the "predominant factor" in the drawing of each of the districts must be sustained.

We begin with general findings and evidence regarding the redistricting plan's respect for traditional districting principles, the legislators' expressed motivations, and the methods used in the redistricting process. The District Court began its analysis by rejecting the factual basis for appellants' claim that Texas' challenged "districts cannot be unconstitutionally bizarre in shape because Texas does not have and never has used traditional redistricting principles such as natural geographical boundaries, contiguity, compactness,


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