Federal court rules 3 GOP congressional districts discriminate against Hispanics

Illustration by Anneke Paterson  Todd Wiseman

Illustration by Anneke Paterson Todd Wiseman

This federal court's decision "hopefully will allow the court to put Texas back under federal supervision because it's clear now after the warnings in Texas voter I.D. and Texas redistricting that Texas needs to be under federal supervision for its voting changes", says Perales.

That includes Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett's District 35, which encompasses parts of Travis County. Will Hurd, R-Helotes - a huge area along the Mexican border that extends from the El Paso area to the San Antonio area.

"Defendants' decision to place Nueces County Hispanic voters in an Anglo district had the effect and was meant to dilute their opportunity to elect their candidate of choice", said the 196-page ruling, including a dissent by Justice Jerry Smith.

Democrats have also had some success recently challenging Republican gerrymandering of legislative districts.

Texas may still challenge the ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court, but the decision gives Democrats hope that they can turn flip more districts in 2018.

An appeal to the Supreme Court is likely to follow.

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The state contended "that politics, not race, was the metric used to draw lines in DFW" and that the use of race "was not discriminatory and did not violate the Equal Protection Clause", the ruling states.

"The Court finds that this evidence persuasively demonstrates that mapdrawers intentionally packed [concentrated certain populations] and cracked [diluted certain populations] on the basis of race (using race as a proxy for voting behavior) with the intent to dilute minority voting strength", U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez wrote in the majority opinion. "All sides concede that - whether it is a good thing or not - Texas has a strong correlation between race and party", Judge Jerry Smith wrote.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The ruling comes as the Lone State's Latino population grew, adding four additional congressional seats after the 2010 Census.

Except for the predominately African-American Congressional District 30, represented by Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson, "minorities have been consistently unable to elect candidates of their choice to the United States House in the DFW districts", the ruling states.

Commentary: A federal court ruled Friday that the Texas Legislature's 2011 redistricting plan for congress discriminated against Latino voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. "And the DoJ lawyers saw themselves as an expeditionary landing party arriving here, just in time, to rescue the state from oppression, obviously presuming that plaintiffs' counsel were not up to the task".

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