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Case Document

Abbott v. Perez Brief As Appellee Supporting Appellants

Document Type
Briefs - Miscellaneous


Nos. 17-586 and 17-626

In the Supreme Court of the United States








Solicitor General Counsel of Record

Acting Assistant Attorney General


Deputy Solicitors General

Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Assistant to the Solicitor General

Department of Justice

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

(202) 514-2217


The United States will address the following questions:

1.  Whether  this  Court  may  exercise  jurisdiction over these appeals.
2.  Whether  the  district  court  erred  in  concluding that the Texas Legislature acted with a 
racially discriminatory  purpose  in  adopting  districts  in  its  2013  congressional and 
State House plans that the district court had included in its own 2012 interim redistricting plans 
and had provisionally determined were not unlawful.
3.  Whether  the  district  court  erred  in  concluding that Congressional District 35 in the 2013 
congressional plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Four- teenth Amendment.




Opinions below .............................................................................. 1
Jurisdiction ............................................................................ 2
Constitutional and statutory provisions involved...................... 2
Statement ...................................................................................... 2
Summary of argument ............................................................... 16
I.     This Court may exercise jurisdiction over these appeals............................................................................ 20
II.   The district court erred in its analysis of intentional vote dilution in the 2013 congressionaland State House plans......................... 24
A.  Plaintiffs’ claims of intentional vote dilution require them to show that the 2013 Legislature acted with a discriminatory racial purpose .......... 24
B.  The district court incorrectly presumed discriminatory intent and shifted the burden of proof to the state ............................................ 31
C.  This Court should reject the basis for the district court’s findings of intentional discrimination .......................................................... 37
1.   Application of a strong presumption of good faith is appropriate in this case.............. 38
2.   Neither the district court nor plaintiffs’ filings to date in this Court have identified sufficient evidence to rebut the strong presumption of good faith ................................ 40
III. The district court erred in concluding that Congressional District 35 is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander..................................... 44
Conclusion ................................................................................... 49




Cases:                                                                                                               Page

Abrams v. Johnson, 521 U.S. 74 (1997)............................ 6
Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 135 S. Ct. 1257 (2015) ..........................................6, 44, 45
Bartlett v. Strickland, 556 U.S. 1 (2009) .................... 5, 10
Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 137 S. Ct. 788 (2017) ...................................... 6, 27, 45, 47
Burns v. Richardson, 384 U.S. 73 (1966) ............................ 29
Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952 (1996).................................. 6
Carson v. American Brands, Inc., 450 U.S. 79 (1981) ......................................................... 17, 20
Chen v. City of Houston, 206 F.3d 502 (5th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 1046 (2001) ............................... 34, 35
City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432 (1985) ............................................................................. 34
City of Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980) ................ 28, 32
Coleman v. Court of Appeals, 566 U.S. 30 (2012)............... 27
Cooper v. Harris, 137 S. Ct. 1455 (2017) ................ passim
Cotton v. Fordice, 157 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. 1998) .................. 34
Davis v. Abbott, 781 F.3d 207 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 534 (2015) ............................................................. 7
Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1028 (1991) ........ 4
Growe v. Emison, 507 U.S. 25 (1993) .................................... 3
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. v. Mayacamas Corp., 485 U.S. 271 (1988).............................................................. 20
Gunn v. University Comm. to End the War in Viet Nam, 399 U.S. 383 (1970)................................................... 23
Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150 (2d Cir. 2010) ........ 30, 34
Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541 (1999)...................................5, 17, 25, 26, 27, 37


Cases—Continued:                                                                                           Page

Hunter v. Underwood, 471 U.S. 222 (1985) ........................ 33
Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997 (1994) .............. 5, 38
Johnson v. Governor, 405 F.3d 1214 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1015 (2005) ..................................... 34
Jones v. City of Lubbock, 727 F.2d 364 (5th Cir. 1984)...... 35
Kirksey v. Board of Supervisors, 554 F.2d 139 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 968 (1977) ..................... 35
Lawyer v. Department of Justice, 521 U.S. 567 (1997)........................................................ 22, 29
League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006).............................................. 5, 29, 30, 37
McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) ............................ 28
Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995)....................... passim
Mississippi State Chapter, Operation PUSH, Inc. v. Mabus, 932 F.2d 400 (5th Cir. 1991) ................................. 29
Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977).............................................................. 27
Palmer v. Thompson, 403 U.S. 217 (1971) .......................... 33
Perry v. Perez, 565 U.S. 388 (2012)............................. passim
Personnel Adm’r v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979) ............... 25
Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549 U.S. 1 (2006)................................. 23
Reno v. Bossier Parish Sch. Bd., 520 U.S. 471 (1997)............................................ 25, 26, 28, 36
Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557 (2009) .............................. 42
Rogers v. Lodge, 458 U.S. 613 (1982) ....................4, 25, 26
Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49 (2005) .................................. 26
Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899 (1996) ................................... 6
Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993) ............................. 5, 26
Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013) ...................................................................3, 12, 27


Cases—Continued:                                                                                         Page

Texas v. United States, 887 F. Supp. 2d 133 (D.D.C. 2012), vacated and remanded, 133 S. Ct. 2885 (2013)........................................... 11
Thornburgh v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30 (1986) ............... 4, 47, 48
Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977) ..................25, 26, 27, 28, 29
Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146 (1993) .................. 4, 26
Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229 (1976) .................... 25, 27
Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975) .................. 30
Whitcomb v. Chavis, 403 U.S. 124 (1971) ......................... 23
Whitcomb v. Davis, 403 U.S. 914 (1971).............................. 23
Wise v. Lipscomb, 437 U.S. 535 (1978) .................... 22, 29, 42

Constitutions and statutes:

U.S. Const. Amend. XIV (Equal Protection Clause) ............................... 3, 4, 5, 44, 46
Voting Rights Act of 1965, 52 U.S.C. 10301 et seq. (Supp. III 2015)..................................................................... 3
52 U.S.C. 10301 (§ 2) ......................................................... 3
52 U.S.C. 10301(a) ............................................................. 4
52 U.S.C. 10301(b) ............................................................. 4
52 U.S.C. 10302(c) (§ 3(c))............................................... 12
52 U.S.C. 10304(a) (§ 5)..................................................... 7
52 U.S.C. 10308(d) ............................................................. 3
28 U.S.C. 1253 ........................................................ 2, 16, 20, 23
28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) ......................................................... 17, 20
28 U.S.C. 2284(a) ....................................................... 17, 20, 23
Tex. Const. Art. III:
§ 5(a) ................................................................................. 44
§ 24(b) ............................................................................... 44
§ 40 .................................................................................... 44


Statutes—Continued:                                                                                     Page

Tex. Elec. Code § 14.001 (West 2017).................................. 21


S. Rep. No. 417, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. (1982)................ 4, 5


In the Supreme Court of the United States

Nos. 17-586 & 17-626









In No. 17-586, the district court’s order on Texas’s 2013 congressional redistricting plan   
(Plan   C235) (C.J.S. App. 3a-119a)1 is reported at 274 F. Supp. 3d 624. That order incorporates 
the court’s prior opinion on the 2011   congressional   redistricting   plan   (Plan   C185) 
(C.J.S. App. 120a-366a; see C.J.S. App. 14a n.13), which is reported at 253 F. Supp. 3d 864.
In No. 17-626, the district court’s order on Texas’s 2013 State House redistricting plan (Plan 
H358) (H.J.S. App. 3a-87a) is reported at 267 F. Supp. 3d 751.  That order incorporates the court’s 
prior opinion on the 2011 State House redistricting plan (Plan H283) (H.J.S. App. 88a-299a; see 
H.J.S. App. 7a n.5), which is reported at 250 F. Supp. 3d 123.


1  Citations to “C.J.S.” refer to filings in No. 17-586, while citations to “H.J.S.” refer to 
filings in No. 17-626.




In No. 17-586, the order of the district court was en- tered on August 15, 2017.  Appellants filed 
their notice of appeal on August 18, 2017 (C.J.S. App. 1a-2a).  In No. 17-626, the order of the 
district court was entered on August 24, 2017.  Appellants filed their notice of appeal on August 
28, 2017 (H.J.S. App. 1a-2a).  Appellants invoke  this  Court’s  jurisdiction  under  28  U.S.C.  
1253. This Court has postponed further consideration of the question of jurisdiction pending a 
hearing on the merits.


Pertinent constitutional and statutory provisions are reproduced in the appendices to the 
jurisdictional state- ments.  See C.J.S. App. 426a-428a; H.J.S. App. 437a-439a.


These appeals concern redistricting plans enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2013 for the State’s 
House of Representatives  (the  State  House  plan)  and  for  the State’s Representatives in the 
United States House of Representatives  (the  congressional  plan).    The  2013 plans were based, 
entirely or almost entirely, on interim remedial plans that a three-judge court of the District 
Court  for  the  Western  District  of  Texas  adopted  in 2012, after that court had enjoined use 
of the Legislature’s prior 2011 redistricting plans pending separate preclearance proceedings in 
the District Court for the District of Columbia.  In the decisions under review, the district  
court  invalidated  several  districts  in  the  2013 congressional  and  State  House  plans  on  
the  grounds that  they  were  intentionally  discriminatory,  were  ra- cially gerrymandered, or 
caused unlawful vote dilution



in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Four- teenth  Amendment  or  the  Voting  Rights 
Act  of  1965 (VRA), 52 U.S.C. 10301 et seq. (Supp. III 2015).2

The United States intervened in the Texas district court to assert claims that the 2011 plans were 
enacted with racially discriminatory intent in violation of Section 2 of the VRA, 52 U.S.C. 
10301.  The United States has not brought any claims  challenging the 2013  congressional  or  
State  House  plans.   The  United  States nonetheless  retains  a  significant  interest  in  
these  appeals because the United States, through the Attorney General,  has  primary  
responsibility  for  enforcing  the VRA.  See 52 U.S.C. 10308(d).  Accordingly, the United States 
has a substantial interest in the proper interpretation of the VRA and the related constitutional 
protection against the unjustified use of race in redistricting.

1.  “[T]he  Constitution  leaves  with  the  States  pri- mary responsibility for apportionment of 
their federal congressional and state legislative districts.”  Growe v. Emison, 507 U.S. 25, 34 
(1993).  States have substantial discretion  to  make  the  judgments  and  compromises necessary 
to balance the complex array of “competing interests” involved in redistricting.  Miller v. 
Johnson, 515 U.S.  900, 915 (1995).   At the same time, both the Constitution and federal statutes 
impose constraints on redistricting in order to prevent racial discrimination.

a.   Section 2 of the VRA imposes a “permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in 
voting.”  Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612, 2631 (2013).  Section 2 prohibits any “voting 
qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure” that “results in a 
denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of


2  All references to Sections of the VRA are found in the 2015 Supplement of the United States 



the United States to vote on account of race or color.” 52 U.S.C. 10301(a).  As amended in 1982, 
Section 2 provides that a violation may be “established if, based on the totality of 
circumstances, it is shown that the [elec- tion] processes   * * *   in the State or political 
subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a [protected] class [who] have 
less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political  process  
and  to  elect  representatives  of  their choice.”  52 U.S.C. 10301(b).

Both Section 2 of the VRA and the Equal Protection Clause  of  the  Fourteenth  Amendment  prohibit 
intentional “vote dilution.”   Rogers  v. Lodge, 458 U.S. 613, 617,  621  (1982)  (Fourteenth  
Amendment);  Garza  v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 766 (9th Cir. 1990)
(Section 2), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1028 (1991); S. Rep. No. 417, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. 27 & n.108 
(1982) (Senate Report) (same).  Vote dilution is caused “either ‘by the dispersal  of  [minority  
voters]  into  districts  in  which they constitute an ineffective minority of voters or from the  
concentration  of  [minority  voters]  into  districts where they constitute an excessive 
majority.’ ”   Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146, 154 (1993) (quoting Thornburgh v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 46 n.11 (1986)).

In  addition,  vote  dilution  without  a  finding  of  discriminatory intent may violate Section 
2 under its “results” test.  This Court has identified three “preconditions” for a 
vote-dilution claim under that test:  (1) The minority  group  must  be  “sufficiently  large  and  
geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single- member district,” (2) the minority 
group must be “politically cohesive,” and (3) the majority must “vote[] sufficiently as a bloc” 
to usually “defeat the minority’s preferred  candidate.”    Gingles,  478  U.S.  at  50-51;  see



Cooper  v.  Harris,  137  S.  Ct.  1455,  1470  (2017).   For single-member districting schemes, 
the first precondition  also  requires  showing  a  “possibility  of  creating more than the 
existing number of reasonably compact districts with a sufficiently large minority population to 
elect candidates of its choice.”  Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1008 (1994).  If a party 
establishes those preconditions, a court then must “consider the ‘totality of circumstances’ to 
determine whether members of a racial group have less opportunity than do other members of the 
electorate.”  League of United Latin Am. Cit- izens  v.  Perry,  548  U.S.  399,  425-426  (2006)  
(LULAC) (quoting De Grandy, 512 U.S. at 1011-1012); see Senate Report  27-29  (articulating  factors  to  
consider).    The Court has reserved the question of how “intentional dis- crimination affects the 
Gingles analysis” for a Section 2 claim.  Bartlett v. Strickland, 556 U.S. 1, 20 (2009) (plu- 
rality opinion).

b.  The Equal Protection Clause, in addition to pro- hibiting  intentional  vote  dilution,  
forbids  the  unjusti- fied,  predominant  use  of  race  in  drawing  districts, known  as  
“unconstitutional  racial  gerrymandering.” Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 641 (1993) (Shaw I).  Such 
a  claim  is  “ ‘analytically  distinct’  from  a  vote  dilution claim.”   Miller, 515 U.S. at 911 
(citation omitted).   In adjudicating a racial-gerrymandering claim, the court must determine 
whether race was “the predominant fac- tor motivating the legislature’s decision to place a signif- 
icant  number  of  voters  within  or  without  a  particular district”—i.e., whether race is the 
“dominant and con- trolling rationale” for a district’s lines.  Id. at 913, 916.  If so, that use 
of race comports with the Equal Protection Clause only if it is narrowly tailored to serve a 
compel- ling state interest.   Id.  at 920; see Hunt  v. Cromartie,



526 U.S. 541, 547 (1999) (“[S]trict scrutiny applies if race was ‘the predominant factor’ 
motivating the legislature’s districting decision.”).

This Court has “long assumed” that States have a compelling interest in complying with Section 2 of 
the VRA.   Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1469; see, e.g., Abrams  v. Johnson, 521 U.S. 74, 91 (1997); Shaw 
v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 915 (1996) (Shaw II); Bush  v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952, 978  (1996)  (plurality  opinion);  

Bush,  517  U.S.  at  990 (O’Connor,  J.,  concurring).3   The predominant  use  of race  in  an  effort to comply  with the VRA will  survive strict scrutiny so  long as a State has “a ‘strong basis in evidence’ in support of the (race-based) choice that it has 
made.”  Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 135 S. Ct. 1257, 1274 (2015) (citation 
omitted).  A “strong basis in evidence” exists so long as legislators “have good reasons to believe 
such use [of race] is required, even if a court does not find that the actions were necessary for 
statutory  compliance.”   Ibid.  (citation  omitted).   That standard affords States “ ‘breathing 
room’ to adopt rea- sonable compliance measures that may prove, in perfect hindsight, not to have 
been needed.”  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464 (quoting Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 
137 S. Ct. 788, 802 (2017)).

2.  This  litigation  arises  from  redistricting  under- taken by Texas following the 2010 Census. 
 The Census showed that Texas had gained more than four million



3  This Court also has repeatedly assumed that States have a com- pelling interest in complying 
with Section 5 of the VRA.  See, e.g., Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 137 S. Ct. 
788, 801 (2017) (rejecting racial-gerrymandering claim where the “State had sufficient grounds to 
determine that the race-based calculus it em- ployed  * * *  was necessary to avoid violating § 



new residents, which entitled it to four additional Rep- resentatives in the U.S. House of 
Representatives.  See Perry v. Perez, 565 U.S. 388, 390 (2012) (per curiam).

a.  In June 2011, the Texas Legislature enacted re- districting plans for, as relevant here, the 
State House (Plan H283) and the U.S. congressional delegation (Plan C185).4  At that time, Section 
5 of the VRA required the State to obtain preclearance before implementing those plans, a process 
that required it to show that the plans “neither ha[d] the purpose nor w[ould] have the effect” of 
discriminating on the basis of race. 52 U.S.C. 10304(a). Texas sought preclearance for its 2011 
plans by filing a declaratory-judgment  action  in  the  District  Court  for the District of 
Columbia in July 2011.

Meanwhile, in June and July 2011, various plaintiffs brought Section 2 and constitutional claims 
against the 2011 congressional and State House plans, which were consolidated before a three-judge 
district court in the Western District of Texas.  That court enjoined use of the 2011 plans 
and—lacking any final decision on pre- clearance from the D.C. district court—adopted interim 
redistricting plans to govern the 2012 elections.  In do- ing so, the district court believed that 
it “was not re- quired  to  give  any  deference  to  the  Legislature’s  en- acted plan[s].”  
Perry, 565 U.S. at 396 (citation and in- ternal quotation marks omitted).



4  The Legislature also enacted a redistricting plan for the State Senate, which led to separate 
litigation before the same three-judge court.   See Davis  v. Perry, No. 11-788 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 
22, 2011). Following adoption of a revised plan in 2013, the State Senate liti- gation was 
dismissed as moot.  See Davis v. Abbott, 781 F.3d 207, 209 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 534 
(2015).  The State Senate plan is not at issue in these appeals.



This Court vacated the interim plans and remanded for  further proceedings.   Perry, 565 U.S. at 
399.   The Court  agreed  that,  absent  preclearance  of  the  State’s 2011 plans, it was 
necessary for the district court to de- vise interim plans for the 2012 elections.  Id. at 392.  
The Court  concluded,  however,  that  the  district  court  had erred “[t]o the extent [it]  * * * 
 substituted its own con- cept  of  the  ‘collective  public  good’ ”  in  formulating  in- terim 
relief.  Id. at 396.  The Court concluded that “[the] district court should take guidance from the 
State’s re- cently enacted plan,” to the extent the legislative poli- cies reflected in that plan 
“ ‘do not lead to violations of the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.’ ”  Id. at 393 (citation 

This Court then articulated legal standards for de- vising  interim  plans  on  remand.   When  
portions  of  a State’s enacted plan are alleged to violate the Constitu- tion or Section 2 of the 
VRA, “a district court should still be guided by that plan, except to the extent those legal 
challenges are shown to have a likelihood of success on the merits.”  Perry, 565 U.S. at 394.  When 
portions of the State’s enacted plan are the subject of a Section 5 preclearance  proceeding  
elsewhere  that  has  not  yet been  completed,  the  district  court  must  “tak[e]  guid- ance 
from a State’s policy judgments unless they reflect aspects of the state plan that stand a 
reasonable proba- bility of failing to gain § 5 preclearance.” Id. at 395. The Court reiterated 
that the district court “must, of course, take care not to incorporate into the interim plan any 
legal defects in the state plan.”  Id. at 394.

b.  On remand, in February 2012, the Texas district court ordered the use of revised interim plans 
for the 2012 elections (Plans C235 and H309).  C.J.S. App. 367a- 424a;  H.J.S.  App.  300a-315a.   
Both  were  compromise



plans  accepted  by  the  State  and  certain  plaintiffs. C.J.S. App. 6a, 368a, 394a-395a.

With respect to congressional districting, Plan C235 made significant changes to nine districts as 
compared to the Legislature’s 2011 plan.  But it made no changes to the  two  congressional 
districts now  at issue:   CD27,  a majority-Anglo district covering Nueces County (which includes  
Corpus  Christi)  and  points  northward;  and CD35, a majority-Latino district extending from 
Travis County (Austin) to Bexar County (San Antonio).  C.J.S. App. 408a, 419a.

Before 2011, CD27 had been a majority-Latino dis- trict that included Nueces County.  The 2011 
version of CD27 still included the concentration of Latino voters in Nueces County, but placed them 
in a majority-Anglo district.  C.J.S. App. 417a.  Various plaintiffs raised Sec- tion 2 claims and 
Section 5 arguments against the new CD27 (id. at 388a, 417a-423a), but the district court con- 
cluded that those challenges were unlikely to succeed under  the  standards  articulated  in  
Perry.   The  court found  that,  regardless  of  how  CD27  was  configured, “only 7 reasonably 
compact Latino opportunity districts c[ould] be drawn in compliance with § 2” in the “South and 
West Texas area.”  Id. at 418a, 421a.  And the court explained  that  Plan  C235  would  restore  a 
 different district—CD23—as   a   Latino   opportunity   district, thereby ensuring that the plan 
had seven such districts. The court thus concluded that Plan C235 “substantially addresses the § 2 
violation,” and retention of the 2011 version of CD27 was appropriate in order to “respect[] the 
Legislature’s policy decisions concerning the place- ment of Nueces County.” Id. at 421a.  The 
court also did not identify any retrogression concerns with CD27 un- der Section 5.  Cf. id. at 
399a, 422a-423a.



As to CD35, one group of private plaintiffs urged the district court to find it a proper Section 2 
Latino oppor- tunity district, while others urged the court to reject it as an unconstitutional 
racial gerrymander or as intentionally vote  dilutive.     The  court  concluded  that  the  
racial- gerrymandering claim was a “close call,” C.J.S. App. 409a, but found that the challenge was 
likely without merit, both because of inadequate evidence that race had predomi- nated in the 
creation of CD35 and because there was no substantial likelihood that CD35 would fail strict scru- 
tiny in any event.  Id. at 415a.  The court also found that plaintiffs had not shown that CD35 was 
created for the discriminatory purpose of “dismantling” a prior “crosso- ver” district (CD25) 
rather than because of “partisan pol- itics.”  Ibid.5

With respect to the State House, in ordering the use of  Plan  H309,  the  district  court  made  
“substantial[]” changes  to  21  districts.   H.J.S.  App.  314a.   But  Plan H309   retained   122 
State   House   districts   without change, including most of those now before this Court: HD54  
and  HD55  in  Bell  County;  HD32  and  HD34  in Nueces County; and HD103, HD104, and HD105 in 
Dal- las County.  Id. at 303a n.4.  The court explained that by keeping those districts unchanged, 
it was “[f ]ollowing [this] Court’s direction to leave undisturbed any district that is free from 
legal defect.”  Id. at 303a.



5  A “crossover” district is “one in which minority voters make up less than a majority of the 
voting-age population,” but in which the “minority population, at least potentially, is large 
enough to elect the candidate of its choice with help from voters who are members of the majority 
and who cross over to support the minority’s pre- ferred candidate.”   Bartlett, 556 U.S. at 13 
(plurality opinion).   A “coalition” district is one in which “two minority groups form a coa- 
lition to elect the candidate of the coalition’s choice.”  Ibid.



Although  the  district  court  found  that  Plans  C235 and H309 satisfied this Court’s standards 
in Perry, it noted that its decisions were preliminary and not final rulings on the merits of any 
claim concerning the 2011 plans.  C.J.S.  App.  367a;  H.J.S.  App.  315a.   The  2012 elections 
were conducted under Plans C235 and H309.

c.  In August 2012, the D.C. district court denied pre- clearance to Texas’s 2011 congressional and 
State House redistricting plans.  See Texas v. United States, 887 F. Supp. 2d 133 (three-judge 
court), vacated and remanded, 133 S. Ct. 2885 (2013).  As to the congressional plan, the court 
concluded that Texas had failed to meet its burden under Section 5 of the VRA to prove an absence 
of dis- criminatory intent.  Id. at 159-166.  As to the State House plan, the court concluded that 
Texas had failed to meet its burden under Section 5 to establish the absence of retrogressive 
effect, and also stated that the record sug- gested that that effect “may not have been 
accidental.” Id. at 178; see id. at 166-178.  The State appealed the de- nial of preclearance to 
this Court.

d.  In  March  2013—while  Texas’s  preclearance  ap- peal  was  pending,  and  while  the  
litigation  below  was held  in  abeyance—the  Texas  Attorney  General  pro- posed to the 
Legislature that it enact the district court’s 2012 interim maps as the State’s permanent 
redistrict- ing plans.  C.J.S. App. 429a-435a.  He observed that the 2011 plans had been found by 
the D.C. district court to be “tainted by evidence of discriminatory purpose,” and explained that 
“the best way to remedy the violations * * *  is to adopt the court-drawn interim plans as the State’s

permanent redistricting maps.”  Id. at 432a.  In May  2013,  the Texas Governor  called the  Legislature

into  special  session  to  consider  that  proposal.   C.J.S. Supp. App. 231a.



On June 23, 2013, the Texas Legislature passed bills adopting new redistricting plans.   The Texas 
Legisla- ture adopted without alteration the court-ordered con- gressional  interim  map  (Plan  
C235)  as  its  permanent congressional  plan.   C.J.S.  App.  9a.   The  Legislature made minor 
changes to the court-ordered State House interim map and then enacted that map as its perma- nent  
State  House  plan  (Plan  H358).   Ibid.    The  2013 plans were signed into law on June 26, 2013, 
and became effective in September 2013.  C.J.S. Supp. App. 232a.

e.  On June 25, 2013, this Court issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 
(2013),  holding that the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the VRA was unconstitutional and 
could “no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance” under Section 
5.  Id. at 2631.  This Court then vacated the D.C.  district  court’s  judgment  denying  preclearance,

133 S. Ct.  2885,  and  on  remand,  that  court  granted Texas’s motion for voluntary dismissal.

3.  a.  Litigation in the Texas district court resumed. The court allowed plaintiffs to amend their 
complaints to challenge the newly enacted 2013 plans and, with re- spect to existing claims against 
the 2011 plans, to seek relief under Section 3(c) of the VRA, 52 U.S.C. 10302(c).
D. Ct. Doc. 886, at 8-19 (Sept. 6, 2013).6  The court or- dered,  however,  that  the  
Legislature’s  newly  enacted 2013 plans (Plans C235 and H358) would be used for the 2014 
elections.  Id. at 21-26.  The court noted that it had



6  Section 3(c), known as the VRA’s “bail-in” provision, permits a district court, upon a finding 
that “violations of the [F]ourteenth or [F]ifteenth [A]mendment justifying equitable relief have 
occurred within the territory of [a] State or political subdivision,” to require the defendant to 
seek approval of future voting changes through a regime similar to Section 5 preclearance.  52 
U.S.C. 10302(c).



“already” conducted “a preliminary injunction analysis” on  plaintiffs’  challenges  in  its  
decisions  adopting  the 2012 interim plans, id. at 22, and it found that the sole “new legal 
challenge” brought by plaintiffs (concerning HD90,  which  had  been  modified  by  the  2013  
Legisla- ture) was not likely to succeed, id. at 23-24.  The court acknowledged it still needed to 
“reach a final decision on the merits of all claims,” but concluded that it was “impossible to 
reach that decision prior to the various deadlines for the 2014 elections.”  Id. at 22.

The United States intervened in the litigation.  D. Ct. Doc. 904 (Sept. 24, 2013).  In its 
complaint, the United States did not challenge the 2013 plans, but instead ar- gued  that  the  
2011  plans  (Plans  C185  and  H283)  had been adopted with racially discriminatory intent in vio- 
lation of Section 2 and that Section 3(c) relief was war- ranted.   D. Ct.  Doc.  907,  at  14  
(Sept.  25,  2013).   The United States’ complaint asserted only intentional vote- dilution claims, 
and did not raise any Section 2 results claims.

b.  In July and August 2014, the Texas district court conducted bench trials on the claims against 
the 2011 congressional and State House plans.  C.J.S. App. 13a.

In October 2015, while a decision on the 2011 plans was still pending, plaintiffs sought a 
preliminary injunc- tion barring the use of the 2013 plans for the 2016 elec- tions.  The court 
denied that request, explaining that the 2013 plans were “the product of the [c]ourt’s preliminary 
injunction analysis” in 2012, and concluding that “scruti- nizing the same plan[s] under the same 
preliminary in- junction  analysis  would  [not]  produce  a  different  out- come today.”  D. Ct. 
Doc. 1324, at 5-6 (Nov. 6, 2015).  The 2013 plans were therefore used for the 2016 elections.



c.  Two-and-a-half years after trial, in various orders issued in  March  through  May  2017, the  
district  court held by a 2-1 vote that Texas had violated the VRA, the Constitution, or both in 
drawing various districts in the 2011  plans.   C.J.S.  App.  120a-366a;  H.J.S.  App.  88a- 299a; 
see C.J.S. Supp. App. 1a-490a (separate findings of fact); H.J.S. Supp. App. 1a-309a (same).
As relevant here, with respect to the 2011 congres- sional plan, the district-court majority found 
that CD27 and  CD35  were  unlawful  (notwithstanding  the  district court’s prior provisional 
determinations to the contrary). C.J.S. App. 161a-195a, 330a.  As to CD27, the court

concluded that the placement of Hispanic  voters in Nueces County  into  a  majority-Anglo  district  

“had  the  effect and  was  intended  to  dilute  their  opportunity  to  elect their candidate of choice.”  Id. at 330a.  The court 
stated that, although only “seven compact Latino opportunity districts could be drawn in South/West 
Texas,” “Nueces County Hispanics could be included in one of those dis- tricts for § 2 purposes.”   
Id.  at 181a.   As to CD35, the court concluded that the district was an unconstitutional racial 
gerrymander, finding that race had predominated in its construction and that the district could not 
survive strict scrutiny.  Id. at 175a.  Judge Smith dissented, both on the ground that the 
challenges to the 2011 plans were moot and on the merits.  Id. at 331a-366a.

With  regard  to  the  2011  State  House  plan,  the district-court majority found that plaintiffs had proven

intentional vote dilution on a statewide basis and also in certain regions.   H.J.S. App. 192a, 275a.   The specific districts invalidated 
because of discriminatory intent in- cluded those in Nueces County (HD32 and HD34), Bell County 
(HD54 and HD55), and Dallas County (HD103, HD104, and HD105).  Id. at 126a-137a, 164a-173a, 178a-



183a, 275a.  Judge Smith again dissented on both moot- ness and the merits.  Id. at 277a-299a.
After issuing those decisions on the 2011 plans, the district court held a trial on the 2013 plans 
in July 2017. Because the United States asserted no claims against the 2013 plans, it did not 
participate in the trial.

d.  In  decisions  issued  in  August  2017,  the  district court  invalidated  several  districts  
in  the  State’s  2013 congressional and State House plans.  See C.J.S. App. 3a-119a; H.J.S. App. 

As relevant here, the district court held that every district it had found to be intentionally 
discriminatory or  racially  gerrymandered  in the  2011 plans  was  also necessarily unlawful in 
the 2013 plans “where th[e] dis- trict lines remain[ed] unchanged.”  C.J.S. App. 46a; see id. at 
35a; H.J.S. App. 6a.  The court acknowledged that the   2013   Legislature   had   effectively   
“adopted   the [c]ourt’s [interim] plans” from 2012, but reasoned that that action “d[id] not 
change” the analysis because the Legislature “did not engage in a deliberative process to ensure 
that the 2013 plans cured any taint from the 2011 plans.”  C.J.S. App. 40a.  Based on that 
conclusion, the court suggested that the Legislature had enacted the 2013 plans “as part of a 
litigation strategy” designed to “insulate”  the  State’s  actions  from  further  challenge, 
rather than as an attempt to “adopt legally compliant plans free from discriminatory taint.”   Id.  
at  40a-41a. Thus,  as  to  the  2013  congressional  plan,  the  district court invalidated CD27 
and CD35, see id. at 117a-118a, and as to the 2013 State House plan, the court invali- dated  HD32  
and  HD34  (Nueces  County),  HD54  and



HD55 (Bell County), and HD103,  HD104, and HD105 (Dallas County), see H.J.S. App. 84a-85a.7
Concluding  that  these  violations  “must  be  reme- died,” C.J.S. App. 117a; see H.J.S. App. 
84a-85a, the dis- trict court directed the Texas Attorney General to ad- vise the court “within 
three business days” whether the Texas Legislature would “take up redistricting in an ef- fort to 
cure these violations.”  C.J.S. App. 118a; H.J.S. App. 86a.  The court further ordered that, absent 
such legislative  redistricting,  it  would  hold  “hearing[s]  to consider remedial plans” in 
early September 2017.  Ibid. Texas  sought  emergency  relief  from  this  Court, which stayed the 
district court’s orders invalidating the 2013 redistricting plans.  Order, No. 17A225 (Sept. 12, 
2017); Order, No. 17A245 (Sept. 12, 2017).  Upon consid- eration of Texas’s jurisdictional 
statements, this Court ordered briefing and postponed further consideration of the question of 
jurisdiction pending hearing of the case on the merits.  Order, No. 17-586 (Jan. 12, 2018); Order,
No. 17-626 (Jan. 12, 2018).


I.  This Court possesses jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1253, which allows direct appeals to this 
Court from an



7  The district court also invalidated HD90—a district newly drawn in the 2013 State House plan—as 
a racial gerrymander, and held that HD32 and HD34 were unlawful for the additional reason that they 
violated the Section 2 results test.   See H.J.S. App. 85a.   In addition, the court held that CD27 
violated the Section 2 results test. C.J.S. App. 112a; see also id. at 180a-195a.  The United States takes no position on those rulings. 
 The United States did not assert any results claims in this litigation, and HD90 was revised in 
2013 and thus does not involve the legislative adoption of a district provision- ally approved by 
the district court—the principal issue addressed by the United States in this brief.



order granting or denying an interlocutory or perma- nent injunction in three-judge district-court 
actions un- der 28 U.S.C. 2284(a) challenging the constitutionality of congressional districts or 
statewide legislative appor- tionments.  This Court has made clear in the analogous context of 28 
U.S.C. 1292(a)(1) that even an order not styled as the grant or denial of an injunction is appeal- 
able if it has the “practical effect” of granting or deny- ing an injunction, “might have a 
‘serious, perhaps irrep- arable,  consequence,’ ”  and  “can  be  ‘effectually  chal- lenged’ only 
by immediate appeal.”   Carson  v. Ameri- can Brands, Inc., 450 U.S. 79, 84 (1981).  Under the un- 
usual facts of this case, the district court’s orders meet those standards.  The orders had the 
effect of prohibit- ing  further  use  of  the  State’s  2013  congressional  and State House 
plans; they had the serious consequence of requiring statewide redistricting on the eve of prepara- 
tions for the 2018 election cycle; and, under the timing exigencies present here, the orders could 
only be effec- tually challenged by immediate appeal.

II.  The  district  court  committed  errors  of  law  in finding  that  the  Texas  Legislature  engaged  in  inten

-tional vote dilution in adopting Congressional District 27 and State House Districts 32, 34, 54, 55, 103, 104, and 105 in the 2013 
plans, all of which were identical to districts contained in the court’s own 2012 interim plans.

A. The  principles  for  adjudicating  claims  of  inten- tional vote dilution are well 
established.   A legislative enactment may be invalidated on that basis only if the plaintiffs show 
that the legislature acted with a discrim- inatory purpose.   In the redistricting context, as 
else- where, courts must accord a “presumption of good faith [to]  legislative  enactments.”   Hunt 
 v.  Cromartie,  526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999) (citation omitted).  Courts must not



infer discriminatory racial intent solely from disparate racial effects, and a finding of past 
intentional discrimi- nation standing alone generally cannot support an in- ference  of  
intentional  discrimination  in  a  new  enact- ment.  And when, as here, a State adopts 
legislatively a new redistricting plan after a prior plan is held unlaw- ful, the burden of proof 
rests on the plaintiff in any chal- lenge to the new plan.

These principles also suggest a further principle:  A court should afford particular weight to a 
state legislature’s  reliance  on  a  court-ordered  remedy.    When  a court has found in a 
reasoned decision that an interim plan redresses all likely violations of law, and when the state  
legislature  permanently  adopts  that  plan  to  replace its original enactment, the normal 
presumption of good faith accorded to legislative enactments is height- ened by the State’s 
acceptance of the judicial plan.  Applying a strong presumption of good faith in this context 
would not direct  an  answer to the intent inquiry as  a matter of law, but plaintiffs should bear 
a heavy burden in establishing that a state  legislature’s  adoption of  a court-ordered plan was 
intentionally discriminatory.

B. The district court erred in its  analysis  of inten- tional vote dilution.  Instead of asking 
whether plaintiffs had proven that the 2013 Legislature adopted the 2013 plans with the purpose of 
harming minority voters, the court  asked  whether  the  State  had  shown  that  it  re- moved the 
“taint of discriminatory intent” that in the court’s view had “carr[ied] over” from the 2011 plans.
C.J.S.  App.  38a,  46a.   But  the  lawfulness  of  the  2013 plans turns on the motivations of 
the 2013 Legislature, and plaintiffs—not the State—bore the burden of proof in that analysis.



C. The circumstances here confirm the soundness of applying a strong presumption of good faith.  

The 2013 Legislature’s plans were identical, or nearly so, to the court-ordered interim plans.  In 
adopting those interim plans after extensive evidentiary proceedings, the dis- trict court 
expressly considered under Perry  v. Perez, 565 U.S. 388 (2012) (per curiam), and provisionally re- 
jected, claims of intentional discrimination involving the same districts now at issue.  And the 
court made numer- ous other ameliorative changes, which gave the Legis- lature  good  reason  to  
believe  that  the  interim  plans would suffice to remedy any prior deficiencies.

The district court’s orders and plaintiffs’ jurisdictional- stage filings in this Court do not 
point to evidence that would rebut the strong presumption of good faith.   The court perceived that 
Texas was motivated to pursue a leg- islative solution as a “strategy” to end the pending liti- 
gation.   But such efforts at voluntary compliance pre- sumptively further—not frustrate—Congress’s 
goal of ameliorating  unlawful  discrimination.   And  the  court identified no evidence showing 
that Texas acted with an intent to discriminate rather than an intent to adopt le- gally compliant 

III. The district court also erred in finding Congres- sional District 35 to be an unconstitutional 
racial gerry- mander.   The  “predominant”  consideration  in  setting the boundaries of CD35 in 
2013 was not race, but rather whether  they  matched  the  boundaries  provisionally deemed lawful 
in 2012.   And the State had “good rea- sons” to believe that the Voting Rights Act required it to 
draw CD35 in 2011 and maintain it in 2013, including that  the  district  court  had  found  in  
2012  that  CD35 aided in  complying  with  the  State’s obligations  under



the VRA to draw seven Latino opportunity districts in South and West Texas.



A party may appeal directly to this Court “from an order  granting  or  denying   * * *   an  
interlocutory  or permanent injunction” in a civil action required to be adjudicated by a 
three-judge district court.   28 U.S.C. 1253.   Under 28 U.S.C. 2284(a), a three-judge district 
court is required for actions “challenging the constitu- tionality of the apportionment of 
congressional districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body.” Ordinarily, when a 
district court has not entered an or- der granting or denying an injunction, this Court lacks 
jurisdiction  to  enter  a  direct  appeal.   The  Court  has made  clear  in  the  analogous  
context  of  28  U.S.C. 1292(a)(1), however, that even an order not styled as the grant or denial 
of an injunction is appealable if it (1) has the “practical effect” of granting or denying an 
injunc- tion;  (2)  “might  have  a  ‘serious,  perhaps  irreparable, consequence’ ”; and (3) “can 
be ‘effectually challenged’ only  by  immediate   appeal.”     Carson   v.  American Brands,  Inc., 
 450  U.S.  79,  84  (1981);  see  Gulfstream Aerospace  Corp.  v.  Mayacamas  Corp.,  485  U.S.  
271, 287-288 (1988).   In the circumstances presented here, the district court’s August 15 and 24 
orders meet those standards.

A. This case presents an unusual combination of extraordinary delays in the judicial proceedings followed

by  the  equally extraordinary  expedition  of those  pro- ceedings on the eve of preparations for the

upcoming election cycle.   After Texas enacted the 2013 congres- sional   and   State   House   plans,   plaintiffs   promptly



amended their complaints to challenge them.   But the trial on the 2013 plans was not held until 
July 2017, and the  district  court  did  not  issue  its  decisions  on  those plans  until  
mid-August  2017,  even  though  Texas  had previously informed the district court that its 
deadlines to  begin  preparations  for  the  2018  election  cycle  re- quired that its plans be in 
place no later than October 1, 2017.   See D. Ct. Doc. 1388, at 1-2 (May 1, 2017).8   By
the time the district court finally ruled, the 2013 plans (or  the  2012  court-ordered  plans  on  
which  they  were based) had been used for three straight election cycles (2012, 2014, and 2016).

The district court’s August 15 and August 24 orders held that the 2013 plans were unlawful and made 
clear that  those  plans  would  not  be  used  for  the  upcoming 2018 elections.  The court’s 
orders found that the 2013 congressional and State House plans contained various “statutory and 
constitutional violations” and stated that those violations “must be remedied by either the Texas 
Legislature  or  this  Court.”   C.J.S.  App.  118a;  H.J.S. App.  84a-85a  (similar).    The  
court  then  directed  the Texas  Attorney  General  to  advise,  within  only  “three business  
days,”  whether  “the  Legislature  intends  to



8  Texas advised the district court that pursuant to Texas Election Code § 14.001 (West 2017), 
election officials were required to mail voter election certificates on or after November 15, 2017, 
but before December 6, 2017.  See D. Ct. Doc. 1388, at 2.  The State indicated that  October  1,  
2017  was  “the  last  possible  date  when  individual voter-registration-templates must be 
provided by the Secretary of State  to  each  of  the  254  county  election  officials  in  the  
State  of Texas.”  Id. at 1-2.  The State’s primary elections are scheduled for March 6, 2018.



take  up  redistricting  in  an  effort  to  cure  these  viola- tions.”   C.J.S. App. 118a; H.J.S. 
App. 86a.9   The court further directed that “[i]f the Legislature does not in- tend  to  take  up  
redistricting,”  the  court  would  hold “hearing[s] to consider remedial plans” on September 5 and 
6, 2017.  Ibid.  The court ordered that, in that event, “the parties must take immediate steps to 
consult with their  experts  and  mapdrawers  and  prepare  statewide
* * *  plans that remedy the violations.”  Ibid.

In  these  circumstances,  the  district  court’s  orders were tantamount to injunctive relief.  
The court’s signif- icant delay, coupled with the impending deadlines and the  remarkably  
compressed  time  frame  to  consider  a possible legislative enactment, placed Texas in a diffi- 
cult position:  because the district court found the exist- ing  plans  “unlawful”  and  ordered  
that  they  “must  be remedied,” Texas could be quite confident that the dis- trict court would not 
permit it to use those plans for the 2018  elections,  even  though  the  court  had  approved 
their use in prior years.  Yet that consequence was not expressly  stated  in  the  form  of  an  
injunction.    Had Texas been required to wait until the district court en- tered an express 
injunction, it would likely have come too late to afford Texas a reasonable opportunity under



9  That three-day response period was far shorter than is typically afforded to a state 
legislature, which this Court has stated should be given a “reasonable opportunity” to contemplate 
a possible leg- islative remedy before being compelled to proceed to remedial liti- gation.  Lawyer 
v. Department of Justice, 521 U.S. 567, 576 (1997) (quoting Wise v. Lipscomb, 437 U.S. 535, 540 
(1978) (principal opin- ion)).



the circumstances for appellate review before deadlines associated with the 2018 election cycle.10

B. None of this Court’s decisions compels a different result.   In Gunn  v. University  Committee  
to  End  the War in Viet Nam, 399 U.S. 383 (1970), this Court held that  it  lacked  jurisdiction  
under  Section  1253  over  a three-judge  district-court  order  that  declared  a  state law 
unconstitutional, but declined to enter an immedi- ate injunction.   That case, however,   did not 
involve a redistricting suit under 28 U.S.C. 2284(a) or the timing considerations present here, and 
it cannot be said that the district court’s liability determination in that case could only be 
effectually challenged by immediate ap- peal.   Similarly,  in  Whitcomb  v.  Chavis,  403  U.S.  
124 (1971), this Court held in a footnote that it lacked juris- diction under Section 1253 to 
entertain an appeal from an interlocutory liability determination in a redistrict- ing case.   Id.  
at 138 n.19; see Whitcomb  v. Davis, 403 U.S.  914  (1971)  (order  dismissing  appeal).    But  that
case, too, did not involve the timing pressures present here, and the Court did not expressly 
consider whether the  district  court’s  liability  ruling  may  have  had  the practical effect of 
an injunction.



10  We do not suggest that such preliminary deadlines in the elec- tion cycle should stand as an 
obstacle to relief on the merits if the Court were to find a violation of the VRA or the 
Constitution and if the  considerations  identified  in  Purcell  v.  Gonzalez,  549  U.S.  1 
(2006) (per curiam), for withholding relief close to an election are not yet present.  As explained 
in the text, however, the delays and resulting compressed time frame are relevant for purposes of 
con- struing 28 U.S.C. 1253 and 2284(a), which provide for direct review of injunctions against  
statewide reapportionment  plans  to ensure prompt resolution of challenges to such plans and to 
accord respect for acts of a state legislature.




On the merits, the Court should correct the legal er- rors  underlying  the  district  court’s  
rulings  that  the Texas Legislature engaged in intentional vote dilution in 2013  when  it  
adopted  Congressional  District  27,  and State House Districts 32, 34, 54, 55, 103, 104, and 105, 
without change from the court’s own 2012 interim plans. The court rested its rulings on 
determinations that the State’s original 2011 plans were tainted with “discrimi- natory   intent”   
and   that   the   Legislature   failed   to “cleanse”  that  intent  in  enacting  its  new  2013  
plans. C.J.S. App. 44a.  But in deciding whether the 2013 plans were intentionally discriminatory, the 
court should have evaluated the intent of the 2013 Legislature, and should have applied the 
familiar principles for discerning the intent of a legislative body, which include a presumption of 
good faith.  That presumption should be particularly strong  here,  because  the  Legislature  
enacted  the  in- terim plans adopted by the district court.  Viewed under the correct legal  
framework,  the evidence invoked  by the  district  court,  and  discussed  by  plaintiffs  in  
their motions to dismiss or affirm in this Court, would not be sufficient to overcome that strong 
presumption of good faith and to establish discriminatory intent.

A.  Plaintiffs’ Claims Of Intentional Vote Dilution Require Them To Show That The 2013 Legislature 
Acted With A Discriminatory Racial Purpose

Plaintiffs claim that the 2013 plans (Plans C235 and H358) intentionally diluted the voting 
strength of mi- nority voters in several districts in violation of Section 2  of  the  VRA  and  
the  Fourteenth  Amendment.   The



principles for adjudicating those claims are well established.

1.  A  legislative  enactment  may  be  invalidated  on grounds of intentional discrimination only 
if the legisla- ture  “acted  with  a  discriminatory  purpose.”   Reno  v. Bossier Parish Sch. 
Bd., 520 U.S. 471, 481 (1997).  “ ‘Discriminatory purpose’  * * *  implies more than intent as 
volition or intent as awareness of consequences.  It implies  that  the  decisionmaker  selected  
or  reaffirmed  a particular course of action at least in part ‘because of,’ not merely ‘in spite 
of,’ its adverse effects upon an identifiable group.”   Personnel  Adm’r  v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 
256, 279 (1979) (citation omitted).  Thus, “even if a neu- tral law has a disproportionately 
adverse effect upon a racial minority, it is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause 
only if that impact can be traced to a discriminatory purpose.”  Id. at 272.

The inquiry into a legislature’s motivation is an “in- herently complex endeavor.”   Hunt  v. 
Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 546 (1999).  “Outright admissions of impermis- sible racial motivation are infrequent.”  
Id. at 553.  More commonly, “[d]etermining whether invidious discrimi- natory purpose was a 
motivating factor demands a sen- sitive  inquiry  into  such  circumstantial  and  direct  evi- 
dence of intent as may be available.”  Village of Arling- ton Heights v. Metropolitan Hous. Dev. 
Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266 (1977); see Rogers v. Lodge, 458 U.S. 613, 618 (1982)  (recognizing  that  
“an  invidious  discriminatory purpose” may often be “inferred from the totality of the relevant 
facts”) (quoting Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 242 (1976)).   The determination of a 
legislature’s motivation,  though  guided  by  legal  principles,  is  ulti- mately an issue of 
fact.  See Hunt, 526 U.S. at 549 (“The legislature’s motivation is itself a factual question.”).



In  Arlington  Heights,  this  Court  set  forth  several considerations in analyzing “whether 
invidious discrim- inatory purpose was a motivating factor” in a govern- ment body’s 
decisionmaking.  429 U.S. at 266; see Boss- ier  Parish,  520  U.S.  at  481  (noting  that  
Arlington Heights “serve[s] as the framework for examining dis- criminatory purpose in cases 
brought under the Equal Protection Clause”).  Under this framework, courts con- sider (1) whether 
the “impact of the official action  * * * bears more heavily on one race than another”; (2) “the 
historical background of the decision”; (3) “[t]he specific sequence of events leading up to the 
challenged deci- sion”; (4) any “[d]epartures from the normal procedural sequence”;  and  (5)  
“[t]he  legislative  or administrative history, especially  . . .  [any] contemporary statements by 
members of the decisionmaking body.”  Bossier Par- ish,  520  U.S.  at  489  (quoting  Arlington  
Heights,  429 U.S. at 266-268) (brackets in original).  This Court has repeatedly applied this framework to 
assess legislative intent in the context of challenges to state redistricting plans.  See Hunt, 526 U.S. at 546-549; 
Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 644 (1993) (Shaw I); Rogers, 458 U.S. at 618.

In performing this inquiry, the burden rests on the “plaintiff ” to “establish that the State  * * 
*  acted with a discriminatory purpose.”  Bossier Parish, 520 U.S. at 481; cf. Schaffer v. Weast, 
546 U.S. 49, 56 (2005) (recog- nizing that the burden of proof generally rests on the party 
alleging a violation of federal law); Voinovich  v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146, 155-156 (1993) (“Section 
2, how- ever, places at least the initial burden of proving an ap- portionment’s   invalidity   
squarely   on   the   plaintiff ’s shoulders.”).   If,  and  only  if,  a  plaintiff  proves  
intentional  discrimination  does  the  burden  shift  to  the  de- fendant to establish any 
available defense, such as by



showing that it would have taken the same action for valid reasons even absent impermissible 
discrimination. See Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 285-286 

2.  The Court has recognized several additional prin- ciples relevant to adjudicating claims of 
unlawful racial intent in the context of state legislative redistricting.

First, this Court has emphasized in the redistricting context that courts must accord a 
“presumption of good faith [to] legislative enactments.”  Hunt, 526 U.S. at 553 (quoting Miller  v. 
Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 916 (1995)). The Court has explained that “[f ]ederal-court review of 
districting legislation represents a serious intrusion on the most vital of local functions,” 
Miller, 515 U.S. at 915, because  legislative  apportionment  is  “primarily  the duty and 
responsibility of the State,” Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612, 2623 (2013) (quoting Perry 
v. Perez, 565 U.S. 388, 392 (2012)) (per curiam); see Cooper v. Harris, 137 S. Ct. 1455, 1463 (2017)

(“The Constitution entrusts States with the job of designing congressional districts.”).  For that reason,

“courts must ‘exercise ex- traordinary caution in adjudicating claims that a State has drawn district lines

on the basis of race.’ ”  Bethune- Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 137 S. Ct. 788, 797 (2017) (quoting Miller,

515 U.S. at 916).Second, this Court has explained that, although in- quiry into the effects of a challenged action 
“may provide an important starting point” for analysis, “official action will not be held 
unconstitutional solely because it results in a racially disproportionate impact.”  Arlington 
Heights, 429 U.S. at 264-266 (citing Davis, 426 U.S. at 242); see also, e.g., Coleman v. Court of 
Appeals, 566 U.S. 30,  42 (2012) (plurality opinion).   Thus, a State’s



decision to “choose a redistricting plan that has a dilu- tive impact does not, without more, 
suffice to establish that  the  jurisdiction  acted  with  a  discriminatory  pur- pose.”  Bossier 
Parish, 520 U.S. at 487-488; cf. Miller, 515 U.S. at 914 (stating in racial-gerrymandering con- 
text that “impact alone” is usually “not determinative, and the Court must look to other evidence 
of race-based decisionmaking”).

Third, this Court has recognized that a finding of in- tentional discrimination in a prior 
legislative enactment is ordinarily insufficient, standing alone, to support an inference of 
intentional discrimination in a later enact- ment.   “[P]ast discrimination cannot, in the manner 
of original sin, condemn governmental action that is not it- self unlawful.”  City of Mobile v. 
Bolden, 446 U.S. 55, 74 (1980)  (plurality  opinion).   Of  course,  “[t]he  historical background” 
 to  a  challenged  enactment  is  a  relevant consideration, Arlington  Heights, 429 U.S. at  267, 
in- cluding evidence pertaining to events that are “reason- ably  contemporaneous  with  the  
challenged  decision,” McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279, 298 n.20 (1987).  But even when a prior 
finding of intentional discrimination was recent, “[t]he ultimate question” under Arlington Heights 
 must be “whether a discriminatory intent has been proved in [the] given case”—that is, for the 
partic- ular challenged enactment.  City of Mobile, 446 U.S. at 74 (plurality opinion).
Fourth, this Court’s decisions indicate that, when a State enacts a new redistricting plan in response

to a judicial order holding a prior plan unconstitutional, the plaintiff retains the burden of proof in any

challenge to the State’s new  plan.   This Court has long recognized that when a federal court has

determined that a new apportionment is required, a State “should be given the



opportunity to make its own redistricting decisions so long as that is practically possible.”  
Lawyer v. Depart- ment  of  Justice, 521 U.S. 567, 576 (1997); see Wise  v. Lipscomb,
437 U.S. 535, 540 (1978) (principal opinion). And even when practical necessities dictate 
the implementation  of  a court-drawn map in the  first  instance, States   nonetheless   remain  
 “free   to   replace   court-mandated  remedial  plans  by  enacting   redistricting plans of 
their own.”  League of United Latin Am. Citi- zens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399, 416 (2006) (LULAC) 
(opinion of Kennedy, J.); see Wise, 437 U.S. at 540 (principal opinion); Burns  v. Richardson, 384 U.S. 
73, 85 (1966). When  a  State  avails  itself  of  that  opportunity,  “[t]he new legislative plan  
 * * *   will then be the governing law unless it, too, is challenged and found to violate the 
Constitution.”  Wise, 437 U.S. at 540 (principal opinion); accord id. at 548 (opinion of Powell, 
J., joined by three other Justices concurring in part and concurring in the judgment); id. at 550 
(Marshall, J., dissenting, joined by two other Justices) (agreeing with the relevant portion of  
the  principal  opinion);  see  also  Mississippi  State Chapter, Operation PUSH, Inc. v. Mabus, 
932 F.2d 400, 408-409 (5th Cir. 1991) (holding that plaintiff had failed to “establish[] that the 
Mississippi Legislature” had “a racially discriminatory purpose” in enacting its legisla- tive 
remedy for a Section 2 violation).

3.  The foregoing principles, taken together, suggest  a further principle.  In considering the

“historical back- ground” and “specific sequence of events” leading to a revised legislative action,

Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 267, a court should afford particular weight to a state legislature’s

reliance on a court’s determination that a particular remedy is both necessary and likely sufficient

to cure a legal violation.  When, as here, a court has found



that an interim plan is sufficient to redress all likely vio- lations  of  law,  and  when  the  
state  legislature  perma- nently adopts that plan to replace its original enactment, the normal 
presumption of good faith accorded to legis- lative  enactments  is  heightened  by  the  State’s  
ac- ceptance of the judicial plan.  Courts should operate from a strong presumption that the state 
legislature’s adop- tion of the judicially approved remedy was due to good- faith compliance 
efforts rather than sinister motives.

Applying a strong presumption of good faith in this context would not direct an answer to the 
intent inquiry as a matter of law.  Even when a state legislature per- manently adopts a remedy 
that a court has provisionally declared to be lawful, a plaintiff may attempt to prove that  the  
legislature  adopted  that  remedy  not  in  good faith, but rather for the purpose of harming 
racial mi- norities and perpetuating unlawful discrimination.  Cf. Hayden  v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 
150, 167 (2d Cir. 2010) (contemplating  the  “possibility that a legislative body might seek to 
insulate from challenge a law known to have been originally enacted with a discriminatory pur- 
pose”).   The  legislature’s  adoption  of  a  court-ordered plan cannot immunize a State from all 
possible liability, including for intentional wrongdoing when it exists.  Cf., e.g., LULAC, 548 
U.S. at 416 (opinion of Kennedy, J.) (“Judicial respect for legislative plans  * * *  cannot jus- 
tify legislative reliance on improper criteria for district- ing  determinations.”);  Weinberger  
v.  Wiesenfeld,  420 U.S. 636, 648 n.16 (1975) (recognizing that courts “need
not  * * *  accept at face value assertions of legislative purposes” if “examination of the 
legislative scheme and its  history  demonstrates  that  the  asserted  purpose could not have been 
a goal of the legislation”).  Plaintiffs should  bear  a heavy burden,  however,  in  establishing



that  a  state  legislature’s  adoption  of  a  court-ordered plan was intentionally discriminatory.

B.  The  District  Court  Incorrectly  Presumed  Discrimina- tory  Intent  And  Shifted  The  
Burden  Of  Proof  To  The State

Rather than applying the settled framework for in- tentional vote-dilution claims, the district 
court under- took a fundamentally different analysis.  The court did not ask whether plaintiffs had 
proven that the Legisla- ture, in enacting the 2013 plans, acted with the purpose of harming 
minority voters.   Instead, the court asked whether the State had shown that it had removed the 
“taint of discriminatory intent” associated with certain districts in its 2011 plans.  C.J.S. App. 
38a.11  The court’s analysis reflects several legal errors.

1.  First, the district court incorrectly assumed that discriminatory  intent  associated  with  
old  legislation persists  into  new  litigation  unless  that  prior  intent  is confronted and 
somehow affirmatively extirpated.  The court faulted the Legislature for not undertaking a “de- 
liberative process to ensure that the 2013 plans cured any taint from the 2011 plans.”   C.J.S. 
App. 40a.   The court  concluded  that,  in  light  of  that  failure,  “the  ra- cially  
discriminatory  intent    * * *    that  it  previously found  in  the  2011  plans  carr[ied]  
over  into  the  2013 plans where those district lines remain unchanged.”  Id.



11  The district court briefly recited the Arlington Heights frame- work in the background of its 
opinion, see C.J.S. App. 27a, but its analysis did not follow that framework.  The sole arguable 
applica- tion of Arlington Heights appeared in a footnote, in which the district court observed 
that the “history of discrimination” in Texas “support[ed]” the court’s findings under its taint 
analysis.   Id.  at 38a-39a n.27.



at 46a; see id. at 117a (same); H.J.S. App. 6a (incorporating same analysis).

That  presumption  of  persistent  discriminatory  intent is inconsistent with the analysis 
required by this Court’s decisions.  See pp. 26-30, supra.  It also makes little sense.  Whether 
intentional discrimination existed in  enacting  the  2013  redistricting  plans  is  a  question 
about the motives of the 2013 Legislature.  Although under  Arlington  Heights  as  applied  in  
the  redistricting context, a history of prior discrimination by a state or local  legislative  
body  can  be  relevant,  the  central  inquiry is whether the legislature that enacted the 
partic- ular law at issue did so for an impermissible purpose.12 Legislative intent is not an 
artifact that “carr[ies] over” from one law to the next; it must be decided anew with each  
successive  enactment.   See,  e.g.,  City  of  Mobile, 446 U.S. at 74 (plurality opinion) 
(inquiring “whether a



12  In its jurisdictional statement, Texas appears to contend (C.J.S. 25-28) that the district 
court impermissibly relied on factual findings about the 2011 Legislature’s intent because claims 
concerning the 2011 plans were moot.  Regardless of whether the claims concerning the 2011 plans 
were moot, the district court was not foreclosed, un- der  the  Arlington  Heights  analysis  in  
this  redistricting  context, from considering the “historical background of ” and “sequence of 
events leading up to” enactment of the 2013 redistricting plans, including whether the 2011 
Legislature acted with discriminatory intent.   But the pertinent question is whether the 2013  
plans  were unlawful, and those plans are entitled to a strong presumption of validity because the 
Texas Legislature enacted the court’s own in- terim plans with little or no change.  As explained 
below, evidence concerning the 2011 plans alone is not sufficient to overcome that presumption and 
establish impermissible intent on the part of the 2013 Legislature, and neither the district court 
nor plaintiffs in their motions to dismiss or affirm have identified other evidence that does so.  
See pp. 40-44, infra.



discriminatory intent has been proved” as to the partic- ular  enactment  at  issue,  because  
“past  discrimination cannot  * * *  condemn governmental action that is not itself unlawful”); cf. 
Palmer v. Thompson, 403 U.S. 217, 225  (1971)  (contemplating  that  a  law  invalidated  

because of improper motive might “be  valid” if the legislature “repassed it for different reasons”).
In support of its belief that the discriminatory intent from 2011 “carr[ied] over” into 2013, the 
district court invoked this Court’s decision in Hunter v. Underwood, 471 U.S. 222 (1985).  See 
C.J.S. App. 35a (“With regard to those areas in Plan C185 and Plan H283 where the Court  found  
that  [the]  district  lines  were  drawn  with impermissible  motive    * * *    ,  Hunter  
indicates  that those  portions  of  the  plans  remain  unlawful.”).    But Hunter did not involve 
a subsequent legislative enact- ment at all.   Rather, the question was whether a 1901 provision of 
the Alabama Constitution, which provided for  the  disenfranchisement  of  persons  “convicted  of, 
among other offenses, ‘any crime  . . .  involving moral turpitude,’ ”  was  invalid  because  it  
had  been  adopted with the purpose of disenfranchising black voters.  471
U.S. at 223.   In defending the constitutionality of that provision, Alabama urged that the passage 
of time, coupled  with  intervening  judicial  rulings  narrowing  the predicate crimes giving 
rise to disenfranchisement, had vitiated any intentional discrimination.

This Court rejected that proposition, explaining that the prior judicial invalidation of “[s]ome of 
the more bla- tantly  discriminatory  selections”  of  crimes  (including “miscegenation”) did not 
cure the intentional discrimi- nation   motivating   other   then-surviving   provisions. Hunter, 
471 U.S. at 233.   But Hunter specifically con- templated that a different analysis would apply if 



challenged  provisions  had  been  reenacted  at  a  later time, and reserved the question whether 
the challenged provision “would be valid if enacted today without any impermissible motivation.”  
Ibid.; see City of Cleburne v. Cleburne  Living  Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 465 n.17 (1985) (Marshall, J., 
concurring in the  judgment in part and dissenting  in  part)  (describing  Hunter  as  “h[olding] 
that extant laws originally motivated by a discrimina- tory purpose continue to violate the Equal 
Protection Clause,  even  if  they  would  be  permissible  were  they reenacted without a 
discriminatory motive”); Cotton v. Fordice, 157 F.3d 388, 391 (5th Cir. 1998) (noting that Hunter 
“left open the possibility that by amendment, a facially neutral provision  * * *  might overcome 
its odi- ous origin”).

Consistent with that understanding of Hunter, sev- eral  courts  of  appeals  have  recognized  that
when a State reenacts a particular voting provision that was intentionally discriminatory when first 
enacted, the ultimate focus in any subsequent litigation must be the intent of the reenacting 
legislature, not the original one. See  Hayden,  594  F.3d  at  166-167  (addressing  felon- 
disenfranchisement law); Johnson v. Governor, 405 F.3d 1214,  1223-1224  (11th  Cir.)  (en  banc)  
(same),  cert.  denied, 546 U.S. 1015 (2005); Cotton, 157 F.3d at 391-392
& n.7 (same); Chen  v. City  of  Houston, 206 F.3d 502, 520-521  (5th  Cir.  2000)  (addressing  
racial-gerrymandering claim), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 1046 (2001).  Those courts also have rejected the proposition 
that prior in- tent “remains legally operative” unless and until some affirmative  contrary  
showing  is  made.   Johnson,  405 F.3d at 1223; see Hayden, 594 F.3d at 166-167 (quoting and 
citing Johnson  with approval); accord Cotton, 157 F.3d at 392 (reaffirming that plaintiff was 
required to



show that the “current version” of the law was “adopted out of a desire to discriminate”) (emphasis 



13  The district court declared that the “most relevant case” sup- porting its analysis was Chen  
v. City  of  Houston, supra, but that decision is fully consistent with the above-stated 
principles.  C.J.S. App. 35a; cf. id. at 35a-39a.  In Chen, the plaintiffs alleged that the City’s 
1997 districting plan was a racial gerrymander insofar as it “substantially maintained the borders 
of previous plans” from 1991, 1993, and 1995 in which race had allegedly predominated.  206 F.3d at 
513.  The Fifth Circuit explained that, although “evidence of in- tent garnered from [those] prior 
plans” was relevant, “the state of mind involved in the prior plans [was] not of itself what is 
precisely and directly the ultimate issue before the [c]ourt in this case.”  Id. at 521.  Rather, 
the court recognized that the “state of mind of the reenacting body” controls the analysis, and 
observed that the “in- tervening reenactment with meaningful alterations may render the current law 
valid” even if the prior law was unconstitutional.  Ibid. The court also applied a “presumption in 
favor of the Council’s good faith,” id. at 520, and ultimately found that race had not predomi- 
nated either in 1997 or in the prior years at issue.

The district court also invoked Kirksey v. Board of Supervisors, 554 F.2d 139 (5th Cir.) (en banc), 
cert. denied, 434 U.S. 968 (1977), which reasoned that the “benign nature” of a new redistricting 
plan “cannot insulate the redistricting government entity from the exist- ing taint” of a prior 
“intentional and purposeful discriminatory de- nial of access.”  Id. at 146-147; see C.J.S. App. 
33a n.34, 45a.  But Kirksey  dates from the pre-City  of  Mobile  era in which the Fifth Circuit 
had concluded that a constitutional vote-dilution claim could be proven  by  either  discriminatory 
 purpose or  discriminatory  ef- fects.  Cf. Jones v. City of Lubbock, 727 F.2d 364, 369, 377-378 
(5th Cir. 1984) (describing history).  And to the extent “th[e] [Kirksey] court determined that a 
[constitutional] voting dilution case did not necessarily  require  intent where  a  political  
system  demonstrably continued the effects of historical discrimination,” the Fifth Circuit later 
rejected that approach, recognizing that a constitutional vote- dilution claim must “satisfy the 
purpose standard generally applica- ble in equal protection cases.”  Id. at 377.



2.  In imposing a legal obligation on the Legislature to “ensure that the 2013 plans cured any 
taint from the 2011 plans,” C.J.S. App. 40a, the district court also ef- fectively shifted the 
burden of proof to Texas.   As ex- plained  above,  the  burden  rests  on  the  “plaintiff [s]” to 
“establish that the State  * * *  acted with a discrim- inatory  purpose.”    Bossier  Parish,  520 
 U.S.  at  481. Although the court did not expressly state that it was shifting the burden of 
proof, its conclusions that “[t]he discriminatory  taint  was  not  removed  by  the  Legisla- 
ture’s  enactment of the Court’s interim plans,” C.J.S. App. 46a (emphasis added), and that “the 
Legislature did not engage in a deliberative process to ensure that the 2013 plans cured any taint 
from the 2011 plans,” id. at 40a (emphasis added), rest on the evident assumption that it was the 
State’s obligation to disprove discrimina- tory intent in 2013 rather than plaintiffs’ obligation 
to prove  it.14   In  shifting  that  burden,  the  district  court overrode  the  strong  
“presumption  of  good  faith”  that the State’s enactments should have enjoyed in these cir- 
cumstances.  Miller, 515 U.S. at 916; see p. 27, supra.

The district court suggested that, absent a burden on Texas to show it has “removed” its prior bad intent,

the 2013  plans  would  be  “insulate[d]”  from challenge  and plaintiffs would have “no remedy” for any “discrimina

- tion or unconstitutional effects” in those plans.   C.J.S. App. 44a-45a & n.45.  That is incorrect:  plaintiffs here could 
have attempted to prove their case in the same



14  The district court’s burden-shifting was invited by some plain- tiffs, who argued that the 
“State has the burden [in the litigation] to prove that its chosen remedy cures all of the defects 
found by the Court”  in  the  2011  plan.   D. Ct.  Doc.  1525,  at  49  (July  31,  2017) (MALC 
post-trial brief ); see id. at 21, 40-42.



way  as  all  other  similarly  situated  plaintiffs  in  redis- tricting  cases—namely,  by  
establishing  that  the  2013 Legislature  enacted the  2013  plans  for  impermissible racial 
purposes.   And to do that, because the Legisla- ture  adopted  court-ordered  remedial  plans,  
plaintiffs should  be  required  to  adduce  particularly  persuasive evidence in order to surmount 
the presumption that the Legislature  acted  lawfully.   But  the  possibility  that  a legislature 
might act with nefarious motives in enacting a court-approved plan cannot justify relieving 
plaintiffs of their burden to show that those motives exist.15

C.  This  Court  Should  Reject  The  Basis  For  The  District Court’s Findings Of Intentional 

It  was  only  by  relying  on  the  flawed  premises  described above that the district court 
reached its conclusion that the 2013 plans were the unlawful product of intentional 
discrimination.  Although the determination of legislative motive is a “factual question,” Hunt, 
526 U.S. at 549, this Court retains “full power to correct a court’s errors of law,” including any 
“legal mistake[s]” underlying factual findings.  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464-1465, 1474; see LULAC, 
548 U.S. at 427 (“Where ‘the ultimate finding of dilution’ is based on ‘a misreading of the  
governing  law’   * * *   there  is  reversible  error.”)



15  The district court’s “insulat[ion]” concern also reflects its con- flation of the concepts of 
discriminatory intent and unlawful vote- dilutive  effect.   Although  success  on  plaintiffs’  
intentional  vote- dilution claims would require proof that the 2013 Legislature acted for a 
discriminatory purpose, plaintiffs’ Section 2 “results” claims require no such showing.  See pp. 
4-5, supra.  Thus, as Texas has acknowledged, the fact that a re-enacting legislature does not act 
with unlawful intent does not foreclose the possibility that “imper- missible discriminatory effect 
may be carried over  * * *  from one version of a law to another.”  C.J.S. 17.



(quoting  Johnson  v.  De  Grandy,  512  U.S.  997,  1022 (1994)).  This Court should correct those 
legal errors.

1.   Application of a strong presumption of good faith is appropriate in this case

The  circumstances  of  this  case  confirm  the  soundness of applying a strong presumption that 
the Legisla- ture did not act with an impermissible racial purpose in adopting the 2013 
redistricting plans.

First, the 2013 Legislature enacted plans that were either  identical  (for  the  congressional 
plan)  or  nearly identical (for the State House plan) to the interim plans that the district court 
ordered to be used for the 2012 elections.  A legislature’s adoption, entirely or substan- tially 
without amendment, of plans that have received judicial approval indicates the legislature’s 
reliance on the district court’s factual and legal determinations that those plans are likely 

Second, in approving the 2012 interim plans, the dis- trict court expressly considered each of 
plaintiffs’ chal- lenges under this Court’s Perry decision and concluded that they either were 
“insubstantial” or had no “likeli- hood of success.”  Perry, 565 U.S. at 394-395. The three- judge 
district court’s approval of the districts that were unchanged from the 2011 plan to the 2012 
interim plan was based on extensive evidentiary proceedings, includ- ing a ten-day trial in 2011; a 
three-day hearing in 2011 regarding the first set of interim maps; a two-day hear- ing in 2012 
concerning the revised set of interim maps on remand from Perry; and the court’s review of post- 
trial briefing from the nine-day preclearance trial in the D.C.  district  court.    C.J.S.  App.  380a.    

The  district court’s evaluation of plaintiffs’ claims under Perry, and its determination that the

2012 interim plans were law-



ful under that standard, gave the Legislature good rea- son to believe that the court’s 2012 
interim plans were a lawful basis for the 2013 plans.

As to the congressional plan, the district court found that CD27 likely did not violate Section 2 
of the VRA because  the  court  had  restored  CD23  as  a  Latino opportunity district.  C.J.S. 
App. 421a.  With respect to CD35, the court found that race had not predominated in its creation 
and that the district would not fail strict scrutiny in any event.  Id. at 409a-415a.  The court 
like- wise stated that in preserving the unaltered districts in the  State  House  plan,  it  was  
“following  the  Supreme Court’s direction to leave undisturbed any district that is  free  from  
legal  defect.”    H.J.S.  App.  303a  (citing Perry, 565 U.S. at 393-394).  The court thus adopted 
the 2012 interim plans only after considering, albeit prelim- inarily, the merits of all pending 
VRA and constitutional challenges.

Third, the district court’s 2012 interim plans made numerous ameliorative changes to other 
districts, which supported the Legislature’s conclusion that the interim plans  had  likely  cured  
any  defects  in  the  2011  plans. The   interim   congressional   plan   made   significant 
changes to nine congressional districts, which included restoring CD23 as a Latino opportunity 
district.  C.J.S. App. 417a-421a.  The court concluded that the restoration of CD23 
“substantially addresse[d]” any Section 2 violation  involving  Latino  voters  in  South  and  
West Texas,   including   those   residing   in   Nueces   County (CD27).  Id. at 421a.  After that 
change, there were at least eleven congressional districts in the 2012 interim plan  in  which  
minority  voters  had  the  opportunity  to elect their candidates of choice, as opposed to only 
ten such districts in the 2011 plan.  Id. at 297a, 399a.



Similarly, in the interim State House plan, the dis- trict  court  made  “substantial[]”  changes  
to  21  State House districts.  H.J.S. App. 314a.  The number of mi- nority opportunity districts 
in the State House plan was thereby increased from 45 or 46 in the 2011 map to at least 50 in the 
2013 map.  See 11-cv-1303 Docket entry No. 79-2, at 8 (D.D.C. Oct. 25, 2011) (comparing numbers 
in 2011 map to those in benchmark pre-2011 map); H.J.S.  App.  308a-309a  (noting  that  2012  

interim  plan “offset” any “retrogression” in the 2011 plan).

Fourth, the court-ordered 2012 plans were created as compromise maps acceptable to both the State 
and to several plaintiffs.  C.J.S. App. 6a, 368a; see D. Ct. Doc. 660 (Feb. 16, 2012) ( joint 
advisory filed by defendants and  by  the  Texas  Latino  Redistricting  Task  Force plaintiffs 
proposing interim congressional plan); D. Ct. Doc. 668 (Feb. 21, 2012) (same for interim State 
House plan).16  That some (although not all) plaintiffs approved of  the  interim  plans  further  
supports  the  reasonable- ness  of  the  Legislature’s  belief  that  those  plans  were lawful.

2.   Neither  the  district  court  nor  plaintiffs’  filings  to date in this Court have 
identified sufficient evidence to rebut the strong presumption of good faith
The   district   court’s   orders   and   the   plaintiffs’ jurisdictional-stage filings in this 
Court do not point to evidence  that  would  be  sufficient  to  rebut  the  strong



16  Although the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force plaintiffs had alleged that the 2011 State 
House and congressional plans “di- lut[ed] Latino voting strength statewide,” D. Ct. Doc. 68, ¶ 21 
(July 25, 2011), those plaintiffs brought no challenges to the 2013 congres- sional plan, and as to 
the 2013 State House plan those plaintiffs chal- lenged only a single district (HD90, which was 
modified in 2013 from the district court’s interim plan).  C.J.S. App. 12a-13a.



presumption of good faith that applies to the 2013 Leg- islature’s re-adoption of  the  unchanged 
districts from the district court’s interim plan.  The district court re- lied  on  its  assessment 
 that  the  “Legislature  did  not adopt the [2012 interim] plans with the intent to adopt legally 
compliant plans free from discriminatory taint,” C.J.S. App. 40a, but rather as a “litigation strategy de

- signed to insulate the 2011 or 2013 plans from further challenge,” id. at 41a.  Plaintiffs endorse that

rationale in their filings in this Court.  See 17-586 Mot. to Dismiss 12, 21 n.9; 17-626 MALC Mot. to Dismiss 29.  

But those assertions appear not to rest on evidence, but rather on a misunderstanding of the law.
To the extent Texas adopted the 2013 plans with a view  to  resolving  existing  litigation  
against  the  2011 plans, it is unclear why the district court regarded that strategy as inherently 
pernicious.  An intent to end liti- gation, without more, is not an intent to discriminate. Indeed, 
the best way to end litigation is to adopt a re- districting  plan  that  complies  with  the  
Voting  Rights Act and the Constitution.  And if a federal court has pro- visionally determined 
that a particular action is unlawful and imposes an interim remedy, and if a legislature per- 
manently adopts that remedy in lieu of continuing to con- test the lawfulness of the original 
action, the State’s ac- ceptance  of  the  judicial  plan  presumptively  furthers— not 
frustrates—Congress’s goal in enacting the VRA of ameliorating unlawful discrimination.
Moreover, even when a State replaces a judicial rem- edy without fully adopting it, this Court’s 
decisions re- quire  that  federal  courts  treat  such  plans with defer- ence.  See pp. 28-29, 
supra.  It follows that a State that enacts a court-approved plan in order to obviate a need for 
litigation concerning prospective compliance should



receive, at a minimum, the same deference.   Were the law  otherwise,  every  state  legislative  
remedy  under- taken  against  the  backdrop  of  redistricting  litigation would be presumptively 
improper, in contravention of this Court’s “presumption of good faith” for state legis- lative 
enactments, Miller, 515 U.S. at 915, and its en- couragement  of  state  legislative  remedies,  
Wise,  437 U.S. at 540 (principal opinion).  Cf. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 581 (2009) (recognizing 
value of “voluntary compliance” in Title VII context).

In any event, the district court did not identify the evidence  that  it  believed  supported  its  
assertion  that the 2013 Legislature acted with an intent to discrimi- nate rather than an “intent 
to adopt legally compliant plans.”  C.J.S. App. 40a.  Rather, the court’s statement appears to rest 
on its mistaken belief that the Legisla- ture was under an affirmative obligation to undertake a 
“deliberative process to ensure that the 2013 plan cured any taint from the 2011 plans,” ibid., and 
an ensuing in- ference that the Legislature’s failure to discharge that obligation was proof of ill 
motive.  But to the extent that the 2013 Legislature relied on the district court’s legal and  
factual  judgments  rather  than  second-guessing them, such reliance is more naturally understood 
as a sign of good faith.  Indeed, the Legislature’s refusal to adopt significant changes is 
consistent with a legislative intent to avoid creating (even inadvertently) new viola- tions of the 

The district court also cited evidence that the Legis- lature’s  counsel,  Jeff  Archer,  advised  
legislators  that the district court’s 2012 findings were preliminary and therefore  not  “full  
determinations”  on  the  merits  of every claim.  C.J.S. App. 43a; see 17-586 Mot. to Dismiss 21 
(relying on same evidence).   But the district court’s



orders on the 2012 interim plans were, at a minimum, highly relevant in assessing Texas’s legal 
obligations and the likely merits of plaintiffs’ claims.  The fact that the Legislature knew that 
the court-ordered interim maps were not based on a final adjudication of plaintiffs’ claims 
concerning the 2011 plans, and yet adopted those maps anyway, can quite reasonably be understood as 
reflect- ing  the  Legislature’s  judgment  that  the  court-ordered maps provided the best 
evidence available as to what re- medial plans would comply with federal law.17  But in any event, 
the non-final nature of the district court’s deter- minations  underlying  its  interim  plans  is  
not,  without more, affirmative evidence of discriminatory intent.

The district court also observed that the 2013 Legis- lature had “steadfast[ly] refus[ed]” to 
consider the pos- sibility of drawing new “coalition” districts, which the district court had 
earlier found “could be required” by the VRA.  C.J.S. Pet. App. 40a; cf. p. 10 n.5, supra.  But the 
Legislature may have believed that the necessary factual  predicate,  including  proof  of  
cohesive  voting among Hispanic and African-American voters, did not exist  to  require  drawing  
new  coalition  districts.   This Court had stated in Perry  that if the district court, in 
adopting its 2011 interim plans, had set out to create a



17  Texas’s post-trial briefing before the district court cited sev- eral pieces of record evidence 
consistent with this understanding. See, e.g., JX-10.4 at 26 (Representative Drew Darby, Chairman, 
House Select Committee on Redistricting) (“[T]he interim maps represent the District Court’s best 
judgment as to  * * *  fully legal and  constitutional  redistricting  plans.”);  JX-13.4  at  151  
(Repre- sentative Travis Clardy, Member, House Select Committee on Re- districting) (“[I]nterim 
means interim, I understand that, but it’s a good, fair map drawn by three hard-working impartial 
federal judges who are very well acquainted with the law.  Don’t you think it’s reasonable that  * 
* *  we use those maps?”).



minority coalition district, “it had no basis for doing so.” 565 U.S. at 399.  The district court 
also did not include any new coalition districts in its 2012 interim plans.  And the district court 
ultimately rejected plaintiffs’ claims that the Legislature should have created additional co- 
alition districts in 2013.  See H.J.S. App. 7a, 9a-12a, 14a, 16a, 20a-22a, 24a-26a, 85a; C.J.S. 
App. 49a-51a, 53a-85a.

Finally, the district court noted that the 2013 Legis- lature “pushed the redistricting bills 
through quickly in a special session,” C.J.S. App. 40a, which began on May 27, 2013, and ended on 
June 25, 2013.  But the Governor convened a special session only because the Legislature had ended 
its regular session in May 2013 without any new  redistricting  plans  to  replace  the  2011  
plans,  for which the D.C. district court had denied preclearance. And because the Legislature sits 
in regular session for only 140 days every two years, see Tex. Const. art. III,
§§ 5(a), 24(b), a special session was necessary if the Leg- islature was to adopt new redistricting 
plans before the 2014 elections.  The “quick[ness]” of the special session may  reflect  only  that 
 “no  [special]  session  shall  be  of longer duration than thirty days.”  Id. § 40.


A.   This Court applies a two-step analysis in deter- mining whether a State has violated the Equal 
Protec- tion Clause through racial gerrymandering.  At the first step, plaintiffs must prove that 
“race was the predomi- nant factor motivating the legislature’s decision to place a significant 
number of voters within or without” a par- ticular district.   Alabama  Legislative Black Caucus v. 
Alabama, 135 S. Ct. 1257, 1267 (2015) (citation omitted). At  the  second  step,  the  burden  
shifts  to  the  State  to



“prove  that  its  race-based  sorting  of  voters  serves  a ‘compelling interest’ and is 
‘narrowly tailored’ to that end.”  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464 (quoting Bethune-Hill, 137  S. Ct.  
at  800).   When  a  State  invokes  compliance with the Voting Rights Act as the “compelling 
interest” justifying its race-based  apportionment, it must show that it had “ ‘good reasons’ ” for 
concluding that its ac- tions were required by the VRA.   Ibid.   (quoting Ala- bama, 135 S. Ct. at 

B.   The district court erred in finding a racial gerry- mander in CD35.  As an initial matter, the 
2013 Legisla- ture adopted CD35 in its present form in 2013 because that  district  had  received  
judicial  endorsement  in  the court-ordered  interim  congressional  plan.    Thus,  the 
“predominant” consideration in establishing the bounda- ries of CD35 in 2013 was that they matched 
the district provisionally deemed lawful by the three-judge court.

In any event, the State had “good reasons” to believe that  the  VRA  required  it  to  draw  CD35  
in  2011  and maintain it in 2013.  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464.  The dis- trict court’s own 
decision in 2012 concluded that Texas had good reasons for drawing CD35 as it did.  Although the 
district court provisionally concluded in 2012 that race did not predominate in drawing the 
district, it also found that “[p]laintiffs [had not] demonstrated  a sub- stantial likelihood that 
CD35 would fail a strict scrutiny analysis [even] if strict scrutiny applies.”   C.J.S. App. 415a.  

The court noted that Texas had defended CD35 in the preclearance proceedings as a “minority oppor- 
tunity district,” id. at 411a, and it observed that CD35 had been designed to have a “Hispanic 
majority” with “ ‘above 50 percent of [Hispanic citizen voting age pop- ulation],’ ”  ibid.  
(citation  omitted).   Indeed,  the  court counted  CD35  among  the  seven  “Latino  opportunity



districts” that it perceived as necessary to satisfy plain- tiffs’  Section  2  “results”  claims  
in  South  and  West Texas.   Id.  at  409a.   Although  the  district  court’s  ap- proval  of  
CD35  in  2012  was  provisional,  that  endorse- ment  provided  at  least  “breathing  room”  for 
 Texas  to conclude, in 2013, that CD35 addressed a VRA need and that maintaining it would not 
violate the Equal Protec- tion Clause.  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464 (citation omitted). In  addition 
 to  the  district  court’s  endorsement  of CD35 in 2012, there were other “good reasons” for 
Texas to believe that Section 2 of the VRA required drawing CD35 as a Hispanic-majority district.  
It is uncontested that Section 2 required no fewer than seven Latino op- portunity  districts  in  
South  and  West  Texas.    C.J.S. App. 112a & n.85, 126a-127a, 176a.  And the State had reason to 
believe that CD35 would satisfy Gingles; map- drawers and members of the Legislature in 2011 were 
aware of substantial Hispanic populations in Austin and San Antonio, and were furnished with 
analyses of ra- cially   polarized   voting   (RPV)   showing   information about polarization 
statewide and in each district, includ- ing  District  35.   See C.J.S. Supp.  App.  67a-69a,  
201a, 366a, 467a-469a, 481a-482a.  Indeed, one group of plain- tiffs proposed and supported the 
creation of  CD35 as “an appropriate § 2” Latino opportunity district during the  2011  
redistricting  process.   C.J.S.  App.  174a;  see C.J.S.  Supp.  App.  158a  (describing  CD35  as  a  “[n]ew
Hispanic VRA district”); C.J.S. Supp. App. 152a, 316a- 317a, 319a-320a.

C.   The district court’s ruling that CD35 failed “strict scrutiny review” because it was “not 
narrowly tailored to the State’s professed interest in avoiding § 2 liability,”
C.J.S.  App.  113a,  177a,  rests  on  misunderstandings  of



Section 2’s requirements, the trial record, and the strict- scrutiny standards articulated by this 

As explained (pp. 4-5, supra), to make a prima facie showing of vote dilution under Section 2, a 
plaintiff must prove,  inter  alia,  that  the  majority  group  would  vote “sufficiently as a 
bloc to enable it  * * *  usually to defeat the  minority’s  preferred  candidate.”    Thornburgh  
v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 51 (1986) (citation omitted).   The district court concluded that that 
precondition could not be met for CD35 because “[e]vidence from county-level elections”  in  Travis 
 County  “shows  substantial  Anglo crossover  voting,”  such  that  “the  Anglo  majority  does 
not  usually  defeat  the  minority-preferred  candidate.” C.J.S. App. 175a.   But only a small share

(21%) of the total population of Travis County is included in CD35. Id. at 181a.  The district court did

not address whether voting patterns were racially polarized within the par- ticular portion of Travis

County included in CD35, nor did it address whether voting patterns were racially po- larized across

CD35 as a whole (i.e., including both ar- eas inside and outside Travis County).  And the district court cited

no precedent in support of its apparent as- sumption that a State necessarily lacks good reasons to draw a

Section 2 district any time that a district includes (or,  as  here,  partially  overlaps  with)  a  
community  in which racial polarization is not apparent.   To the con- trary, this Court has 
recently reaffirmed that “the basic unit of analysis for racial gerrymandering claims  * * * is the 
district,” and has stated that “[c]oncentrating on particular portions [of the district] in 
isolation may ob- scure  the  significance  of  relevant  districtwide  evi- dence.”  Bethune-Hill, 
137 S. Ct. at 799-800.

Applying a “holistic analysis,” Bethune-Hill, 137 S. Ct. at 800, the record confirms that it would be inappropriate



to deem CD35 an improper Section 2 district solely be- cause of a purported lack of racially 
polarized voting in Travis  County.   See  D.  Ct.  Doc.  681-3,  at  7  (Feb.  28, 2012). The 
total population of CD35 is 698,488. Ibid.  The total  Hispanic  population  of  CD35  is  438,819  
persons, more  than  two-thirds  of  whom  reside  outside  Travis County.   Ibid.   The  total  
Anglo population  of  CD35 is 175,726 persons, nearly three-quarters of whom reside outside Travis 
County.   Ibid.   Within CD35, the Anglo population  from Travis  County is only 45,272 persons. 
Ibid.  Thus, even assuming a showing that Anglos in the covered portion of Travis County did not 
engage in ra- cially polarized voting, that would fail to establish that Anglos districtwide would 
not vote so as “usually to de- feat the minority’s preferred candidate.”   Gingles, 478
U.S. at 51.  And it is uncontroverted that racially polar- ized voting existed throughout the 
counties making up the majority of CD35.  See C.J.S. App. 21a (stating that the existence of 
racially polarized voting outside Travis County was “essentially undisputed” and “supported by all 
the expert testimony in the case”).

In any event, even if the absence of racially polarized voting in Travis County meant that CD35 was 
not re- quired to be drawn as a Section 2 district, the district court erred in finding that CD35 
failed strict scrutiny for that reason.  This Court’s precedents afford a State “ ‘breathing   
room’   to   adopt   reasonable   compliance measures that may prove, in perfect hindsight, not to 
have been needed.”  Cooper, 137 S. Ct. at 1464 (citation omitted).  Here, because the State had, at 
a minimum, “good  reason  to  think  that  all  the  ‘Gingles  precondi- tions’ [were] met,” “so 
too it ha[d] good reason to believe that  §  2  require[d]  drawing  a  majority-minority  dis- 
trict.”  Id. at 1470.




For  the  foregoing  reasons,  the  Court  should  reject the bases for the district court’s 
findings of intentional discrimination  as  to  eight  unchanged  districts  (CD27, HD32,   HD34,   
HD54,   HD55,   HD103,   HD104,   and HD105), and it should reverse the finding of a racial ger

- rymander   as   to   the   remaining  unchanged   district (CD35).

Respectfully submitted.

Solicitor General

Acting Assistant Attorney General


Deputy Solicitors General

Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Assistant to the Solicitor General



Updated April 18, 2023