Fed Court Rules that Congressional Maps Created by Texas GOP are Racist & Intended to Dilute the Non-White Vote
From [HERE] A panel of federal judges in San Antonio has ruled that a handful of Texas congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated state Legislature in 2011 discriminated against black and Hispanic voters and violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.
The ruling striking down the maps was made late Friday. It is the latest development in a long-running and racially charged redistricting case that locked Democratic lawmakers, minority groups, the Obama administration and the Texas Republican leadership in a legal battle for nearly six years. Democrats and civil-rights lawyers accused the majority-white Texas Republican leadership of drawing district maps in ways that diluted the voting power of Democratic-leaning minority voters, accusations that Republicans denied.
“The court’s decision exposes the Texas Legislature’s illegal effort to dilute the vote of Texas Latinos,” said Nina Perales, the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which represented a coalition of Latino organizations that sued Texas over the redistricting maps. “Moving forward, the ruling will help protect Latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout.”
The next steps in the case were unclear. Texas is likely to appeal the decision, and because of the legal dynamics, any appeal would go directly to the Supreme Court. The process of redrawing the maps may be delayed not only by an appeal but also because the San Antonio panel has yet to rule on another aspect of the case, the district maps drawn for the state’s House of Representatives.
The Texas attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The judicial panel’s decision came eight months after a federal appeals court ruled in a separate case that the state’s tough voter-identification law needed to be made less restrictive because it discriminated against minority voters who lacked the required government-issued photo IDs. The Republican-led Legislature that passed the voter ID bill in 2011 also passed the contested redistricting maps.
Friday’s decision means that in the span of months, two federal courts in two voting-rights cases found that the 2011 session of the Texas Legislature discriminated against black and Hispanic voters.
“Republicans have ensured that the dark days of discrimination in Texas continue to loom, but the sun will soon shine,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement after the redistricting decision. “In time, justice prevails.”