Bush v. Vera

517 U.S. 952, 116 S. Ct. 1941 (1996)



Strict scrutiny applies where redistricting legislation is so extremely irregular on its face that it rationally can be viewed only as an effort to segregate the races for purposes of voting, without regard for traditional districting principles, or where race for its own sake, and not other districting principles, was the legislature's dominant and controlling rationale in drawing its district lines; and the legislature subordinated traditional race-neutral districting principles to racial considerations.


A census revealed a population increase that entitled Texas to three additional congressional seats. In response, the Texas legislature promulgated a redistricting plan that created a new majority-African-American district and a new majority-Hispanic district, as well as a reconfigured majority-African-American district. Six voters challenged the plan, alleging that the congressional districts constituted racial gerrymanders in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Was the redistricting plan unconstitutional?




The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court declaring the congressional districts unconstitutional because race was the predominant factor in drawing each of the districts. The Court held that there was substantial evidence that race led to the neglect of the traditional districting criteria and that the districts exhibited a level of racial manipulation that exceeded what § 2 of the Voting Rights Act could justify.


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