Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 88 (1996)

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960

BUSH v. VERA

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

and conformity to political subdivisions." 861 F. Supp., at 1333. The court instead found that "generally, Texas has not intentionally disregarded traditional districting criteria," and that only one pre-1991 congressional district in Texas was comparable in its irregularity and noncompactness to the three challenged districts. Id., at 1334. The court also noted that "compactness as measured by an 'eyeball' approach was much less important," id., at 1313, n. 9, in the 1991 plan, App. 144, than in its predecessor, the 1980 Texas congressional districting plan, id., at 138, and that districts were especially irregular in shape in the Dallas and Harris County areas where the challenged districts are located, see 861 F. Supp., at 1313, n. 9.

These findings comport with the conclusions of an instructive study that attempted to determine the relative compactness of districts nationwide in objective, numerical terms. That study gave Texas' 1980 districting plan a roughly average score for the compactness and regularity of its district shapes, but ranked its 1991 plan among the worst in the Nation. See Pildes & Niemi, Expressive Harms, "Bizarre Districts," and Voting Rights: Evaluating Election-District Appearances After Shaw v. Reno, 92 Mich. L. Rev. 483, 571- 573, table 6 (1993). The same study ranked Districts 18, 29, and 30 among the 28 least regular congressional districts nationwide. See id., at 565, table 3. Our own review gives us no reason to disagree with the District Court that the districts at issue "have no integrity in terms of traditional, neutral redistricting criteria," 861 F. Supp., at 1339.

The District Court also found substantial direct evidence of the legislature's racial motivations. The State's submission to the Department of Justice for preclearance under VRA 5 reports a consensus within the legislature that the three new congressional districts

" 'should be configured in such a way as to allow members of racial, ethnic, and language minorities to elect Congressional representatives. Accordingly, the three

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