KRWG

Federal Court Declares Texas 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan Illegal

Mar 12, 2017

  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.

The three-judge panel concluded that Texas violated the Voting Rights Act by carving up Latino areas and limiting Latino political strength in South Texas, West Texas and Dallas-Ft. Worth even as the state’s Latino population rose to 38%.  Additionally, the court ruled that in West Texas CD 23 and North Texas CD 26 the state violated the U.S. Constitution by creating intentional racial gerrymanders.

The ruling comes as the Lone State's Latino population grew, adding four additional congressional seats after the 2010 Census. Despite the growth,  the legislature did not increase the number of Latino-majority congressional districts.

The decision marks a victory for the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, a statewide coalition of Latino organizations that challenged the redistricting plans after concluding that the 2011 redistricting hurt Latino voters.  MALDEF represented the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force in the case.

“The court’s decision exposes the Texas Legislature’s illegal effort to dilute the vote of Texas Latinos,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation and lead counsel in the case. “Moving forward, the ruling will help protect Latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout."

Any appeal from the decision of the three-judge trial court would go directly to the United States Supreme Court.

"This long-awaited decision demonstrates yet again that serious voting rights violations continue to occur, and that the vote-suppression deniers in Congress are delusional," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. "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."