Cite as: 517 U. S. 952 (1996)
Opinion of O'Connor, J.
as a proxy to protect the political fortunes of adjacent incumbents, and for its own sake in maximizing the minority population of District 30 regardless of traditional districting principles. District 30's combination of a bizarre, noncompact shape and overwhelming evidence that that shape was essentially dictated by racial considerations of one form or another is exceptional; Texas Congressional District 6, for example, which Justice Stevens discusses in detail, post, at 1019- 1020, has only the former characteristic. That combination of characteristics leads us to conclude that District 30 is subject to strict scrutiny.
In Harris County, centered on the city of Houston, Districts 18 and 29 interlock "like a jigsaw puzzle . . . in which it might be impossible to get the pieces apart." Barone & Ujifusa, Almanac of American Politics 1996, at 1307-1308; see also Appendixes B and C to this opinion (outlines of Districts 18, 29). As the District Court noted: "[T]hese districts are so finely 'crafted' that one cannot visualize their exact boundaries without looking at a map at least three feet square." 861 F. Supp., at 1323. According to the leading statistical study of relative district compactness and regularity, they are two of the three least regular districts in the country. See Pildes & Niemi, 92 Mich. L. Rev., at 565.
District 18's population is 51% African-American and 15% Hispanic. App. 110. It "has some of the most irregular boundaries of any congressional district in the country[,] . . . boundaries that squiggle north toward Intercontinental Airport and northwest out radial highways, then spurt south on one side toward the port and on the other toward the Astrodome." Barone & Ujifusa, supra, at 1307. Its "many narrow corridors, wings, or fingers . . . reach out to enclose black voters, while excluding nearby Hispanic residents." Pildes & Niemi, supra, at 556.
District 29 has a 61% Hispanic and 10% African-American population. App. 110. It resembles
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