Court Finds More Racial Gerrymandering in Texas Voting Maps
Rafael Anchia, head of the Texas House' Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state.
Once again, judges have ruled that Texas deliberately discriminated against minority voters - this time in drawing district lines for the state house of representatives. The maps originated in a House redistricting committee made up of 12 Republicans and five Democrats. In its ruling, the court also found nine districts (in Bell, Hidalgo, Lampasas and Nueces counties) were drawn with uneven populations, in violation of the one person, one vote rule.
Democratic state Rep. Scott Inman says he will run for Oklahoma governor next year after serving as the leader of the House Democratic caucus for seven years. "New maps must be drawn immediately". In a dissenting opinion, Fifth Circuit appeals court judge Jerry Smith, the sole voice of dissent in both that case and in Thursday's redistricting ruling, called the finding of bias a "misunderstanding" and that the maps were just retooled for "partisan advantage". Thursday, a different panel ruled by the same 2-1 margin that Texas' House map does the same.
The panel found that the Legislature's drawing of the House map as a whole had intentionally diluted votes and specifically diluted them in nearly all of the state's urban counties, including Dallas, El Paso, Tarrant, Harris and Bexar. "We are confident we will ultimately prevail in this case". A voter ID law it passed in 2011 has twice been found to have been enacted with intention of discrimination against minorities by a federal judge-the second time after using a higher legal standard laid out by an appeals court.
Today's ruling comes after a similar ruling last month, which said lawmakers diluted the influence of minority voters when they drew some of the state's congressional districts, a violation of the 14th Amendment. The judges also found improper racial gerrymandering in Bexar County. Rodriguez, a former Republican member of the Texas Supreme Court, was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, and Smith was tapped by President Ronald Reagan.
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