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Speaking through Justice Byron White, the Supreme Court by a 6-3 vote reversed the three-judge U.S. District Court’s judgment on the first question. Justice White pointed out that the population variance between the largest and the smallest Texas House district created by the Legislative Redistricting Board’s reapportionment plan was 9.9 percent. The majority concluded that this variance was acceptable, and thus, the district court was in error on this point. Referring to several of the Supreme Court’s prior rulings, Justice White wrote: “[S]tate reapportionment statutes are not subject to the same strict standards applicable to reapportionment of congressional seats.” He went on to write: “[W]e do not consider relatively minor population deviations among state legislative districts to substantially dilute the weight of individual votes in the larger districts so as to deprive individuals in those districts of fair and effective representation. … We cannot glean an equal protection violation from the single fact that two legislative districts in Texas differ from one another by as much as 9.9 percent when compared to the ideal district. Very likely, larger differences between districts would not be tolerable …”

Justice William Brennan , joined by Justices William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall , disagreed with the majority’s position relative to this first question. Brennan wrote: “[T]he decision to uphold the state apportionment scheme reflects a substantial and very unfortunate retreat from the principles established in our earlier cases … one can reasonably surmise that a line has been drawn at 10 percent … deviations less than that amount require no justification whatsoever. … We have demanded equality in district population precisely to ensure that the weight of a person’s vote will not depend on the district in which he lives. The conclusion that a state may, without any articulated justification, deliberately weight some persons’ votes more heavily than others seems to me fundamentally at odds with the purpose and rationale of our reapportionment decisions.”

The Court’s decision relative to the second question was 9-0. Still speaking through Justice White, the Court thus unanimously concluded that the multi-member House districts for Dallas and Bexar counties were unconstitutional. Justice White wrote that the District Court correctly did not hold “that every racial or political group has a constitutional right to be represented in the state legislature.” However, he continued, “from its special vantage point,” the District Court did conclude that the multimember districts in Dallas and Bexar counties “invidiously excluded “ African-Americans and Mexican-Americans “from effective participation in political life, specifically in the election of representatives to the Texas House of Representatives.”