Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 92 (1996)

Page:   Index   Previous  85  86  87  88  89  90  91  92  93  94  95  96  97  98  99  Next



Opinion of O'Connor, J.

See also id., at 1317-1318 (describing specific evidence of incumbency protection efforts statewide). This finding receives inferential support from the fact that all but one of Texas' 27 incumbents won in the 1992 elections. See id., at 1318. And the appellants point to evidence that in many cases, race correlates strongly with manifestations of community of interest (for example, shared broadcast and print media, public transport infrastructure, and institutions such as schools and churches) and with the political data that are vital to incumbency protection efforts, raising the possibility that correlations between racial demographics and district lines may be explicable in terms of nonracial motivations. For example, a finding by a district court that district lines were drawn in part on the basis of evidence (other than racial data) of where communities of interest existed might weaken a plaintiff's claim that race predominated in the drawing of district lines. Cf. post, at 1049 (Souter, J., dissenting) (recognizing the legitimate role of communities of interest in our system of representative democracy).

Strict scrutiny would not be appropriate if race-neutral, traditional districting considerations predominated over racial ones. We have not subjected political gerrymandering to strict scrutiny. See Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U. S. 109, 132 (1986) (White, J., plurality opinion) ("[U]nconstitutional discrimination occurs only when the electoral system is arranged in a manner that will consistently degrade a voter's or a group of voters' influence on the political process as a whole"); id., at 147 (O'Connor, J., concurring in judgment) ("[P]urely political gerrymandering claims" are not justiciable). And we have recognized incumbency protection, at least in the limited form of "avoiding contests between incumbent[s]," as a legitimate state goal. See Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U. S. 725, 740 (1983); White v. Weiser, 412 U. S. 783, 797 (1973); Burns v. Richardson, 384 U. S. 73, 89, n. 16 (1966); cf. Gaffney v. Cummings, 412 U. S. 735, 751-754, and 752, n. 18 (1973) (State may draw irregular district lines in order

Page:   Index   Previous  85  86  87  88  89  90  91  92  93  94  95  96  97  98  99  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007