Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 91 (1996)

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

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

tricts. But, as the District Court explained, the direct evidence of racial considerations, coupled with the fact that the computer program used was significantly more sophisticated with respect to race than with respect to other demographic data, provides substantial evidence that it was race that led to the neglect of traditional districting criteria here. We must therefore consider what role other factors played in order to determine whether race predominated.

Several factors other than race were at work in the drawing of the districts. Traditional districting criteria were not entirely neglected: Districts 18 and 29 maintain the integrity of county lines; each of the three districts takes its character from a principal city and the surrounding urban area; and none of the districts is as widely dispersed as the North Carolina district held unconstitutional in Shaw II, ante, p. 899. (These characteristics are, however, unremarkable in the context of large, densely populated urban counties.) More significantly, the District Court found that incumbency protection influenced the redistricting plan to an unprecedented extent:

"[A]s enacted in Texas in 1991, many incumbent protection boundaries sabotaged traditional redistricting principles as they routinely divided counties, cities, neighborhoods, and regions. For the sake of maintaining or winning seats in the House of Representatives, Congressmen or would-be Congressmen shed hostile groups and potential opponents by fencing them out of their districts. The Legislature obligingly carved out districts of apparent supporters of incumbents, as suggested by the incumbents, and then added appendages to connect their residences to those districts. The final result seems not one in which the people select their representatives, but in which the representatives have selected the people." 861 F. Supp., at 1334 (citations and footnotes omitted).


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