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Federal court rules 3 GOP congressional districts discriminate against Hispanics

Federal court rules 3 GOP congressional districts discriminate against Hispanics”

"If you set out to draw a map for political reasons, it will often look like you are drawing it for racial reasons", Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of the Texas Tribune said, "and the courts decided in this case that they went over the line and that they drew for racial reasons and that they went too far".

On Friday, a federal district court in San Antonio ruled in a 2-1 vote that some of the state's congressional districts violated the federal Voting Rights Act or the U.S. Constitution.

A three-judge panel in a Texas redistricting case has ruled that the Texas Legislature's 2011 congressional redistricting plan discriminated against minority voters.

"This Court finds that map-drawers acted with an impermissible intent to dilute minority voting strength or otherwise violated the Fourteenth Amendment", judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in their opinion.

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In a scathing dissent, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith blasted Department of Justice attorneys' "arrogance and condescension", accusing them of "exhibiting contempt for Texas and its representatives".

It was not clear whether Texas would appeal the ruling.

Hispanics were found to have fueled Texas' dramatic growth in the 2010 census, the year before the maps were drawn, accounting for two out of every three new residents in the state.

"All sides concede that - whether it is a good thing or not - Texas has a strong correlation between race and party", he wrote.

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He also criticized attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice, stating they saw "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".

"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. Politically motivated redistricting is legal, but redistricting with an intent to reduce the influence of minority voters - either by "packing" those voters into a district, or "cracking" them among multiple districts - is not.

The ruling specifically named three congressional districts that need to be withdrawn- District 23, District 27, and District 35. "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".

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