Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 89 (1996)

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

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

new districts include a predominantly black district drawn in the Dallas County area [District 30] and predominantly Hispanic districts in the Harris County area [District 29] and in the South Texas region. In addition to creating the three new minority districts, the proposed Congressional redistricting plan increases the black voting strength of the current District 18 (Harris County) by increasing the population to assure that the black community may continue to elect a candidate of its choice.' " Id., at 1315 (quoting Narrative of Voting Rights Act Considerations in Affected Districts, reprinted in App. 104-105).

The appellants also conceded in this litigation that the three districts at issue "were created for the purpose of enhancing the opportunity of minority voters to elect minority representatives to Congress." 861 F. Supp., at 1337. And testimony of individual state officials confirmed that the decision to create the districts now challenged as majority-minority districts was made at the outset of the process and never seriously questioned.

The means that Texas used to make its redistricting decisions provides further evidence of the importance of race. The primary tool used in drawing district lines was a computer program called "REDAPPL." REDAPPL permitted redistricters to manipulate district lines on computer maps, on which racial and other socioeconomic data were superimposed. At each change in configuration of the district lines being drafted, REDAPPL displayed updated racial composition statistics for the district as drawn. REDAPPL contained racial data at the block-by-block level, whereas other data, such as party registration and past voting statistics, were only available at the level of voter tabulation districts (which approximate election precincts). The availability and use of block-by-block racial data was unprecedented; before the 1990 census, data were not broken down beyond the census tract level. See App. 123. By providing uniquely


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