Published: Tue, March 14, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Federal judges find Texas gerrymandered maps on racial lines

Federal judges find Texas gerrymandered maps on racial lines

"Texas redistricting in 2011 was essentially about politics, not race".

"The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage", U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in their opinion. If appealed, the case might be bound for the Supreme Court.

The redistricting was the hook behind the jab in a one-two combination aimed in 2011 at diluting the rising power of minority voters in Texas.

Garcia and Rodriguez, who were appointed by President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, respectively, explicitly stated that districts were drawn to "minimize Hispanic electoral opportunity". The panel found that Republicans had used race as a motivating factor in gerrymandering the districts.

The court found that Texas Republicans unnecessarily concentrated minority voters in certain districts to reduce their influence statewide while diluting minority representation in other districts, specifically naming Republican-held seats in South and Southwest Texas (CD 23 & 27) and a Democratic-held seat based in Austin (CD 35).

Box office report: Kong: Skull Island clobbers Logan with $61 million
But much like the 2005 version, this new Kong was an expensive movie to make - costing more than $185 million. That dropped last weekend's leader, Logan , into the runner-up spot with its take of $38-million.

"It was obvious, from the start, that the DoJ attorneys viewed state officials and the legislative majority and their staffs as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots who bemoan the abolition of the poll tax and pine for the days of literacy tests and lynchings", Smith wrote. "By drawing Doggett's district with a majority Hispanic population extending into San Antonio, the Republican-controlled Legislature was able to "create the facade of complying" with the Voting Rights Act while eliminating an existing Democratic district, the panel ruled".

The stakes in finding discriminatory intent are higher because it provides a window for opponents to argue that Texas should be forced to resume having changes to voting laws "pre-cleared" by the Justice Department or a federal court.

"This is a huge victory for voting rights plaintiffs, but I am increasingly pessimistic in the medium term", UC Irvine School of Law professor Rick Hasen wrote on his Election Law Blog.

The decision is the latest step in a years-long legal battle over the Texas legislature's efforts to give Republicans a leg up in congressional races in Texas - a fight that began even before district lines were finalized after the 2010 Census. "Texas taxpayers will pay a hefty price for this decision, all because the Supreme Court effectively nullified the more efficient and cost-effective pre-clearance mechanism four years ago".

Like this: