Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Texas redistricting violates VRA, is also discriminatory

Let's go first with the LSP.

After months of deliberation, a three-judge Federal District Court panel in Washington, DC has ruled that the redistricting maps adopted by the Texas Legislature last year violate the US Voting Rights Act. The Court determined that Texas Republican leaders enacted maps that reduced the opportunity for minority voters in Texas to elect their candidates of choice AND the Court ruled that the Legislature used a process that was intentionally discriminatory in adopting the Congressional and State Senate maps.

A copy of the Court’s decision can be seen here.

The election in November will proceed as scheduled under the court-drawn interim maps ordered earlier this year. However, the DC Court’s ruling means that the maps passed by the Legislature in 2011 cannot be used for any election going forward. The current court-drawn interim Congressional, State Senate and State House maps will serve as the benchmark for determining minority voter opportunity. In effect, if the Legislature chooses to redraw the three maps next year, they cannot revert to their previously enacted maps but must start over using the court-drawn interim maps as a baseline.

Matt Angle also added...

The Court’s decision is a damning indictment of Rick Perry and other Texas Republican leaders who, in a cynical attempt to hold on to power, engaged in intentional discrimination against Texas Latino and African American voters.

Every fair-minded Texan familiar with the details of redistricting knew Republican leaders were violating the law. Greg Abbott and Texas Republican will stop at nothing to hold power – even if it means spending millions in Texans hard-earned tax dollars to defend illegal discriminatory redistricting plans. I’m sure he’s burning up more tax dollars as we speak.

Yes, Abbott plans to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court... naturally. More analysis from Michael Li.

* Opinion appears to be a sweeping win for DOJ and groups opposing the state’s redistricting maps. Unanimous except (1) that Judge Griffith dissents with respect to finding of retrogression in treatment of CD-25 (the current Lloyd Doggett seat) and (2) that Judge Collyer did not join in the portion of the opinion relating to retrogression in the congressional map as a whole.

 * Court finds that the State of Texas failed to show an absence of discriminatory purpose in the redrawing of SD-10. The court, however, rejects the contention that SD-10 is an ability to elect district since Wendy Davis was the only minority-preferred candidate to win the district and “a single victory is not the more exacting evidence needed for a coalition district.” 

And it gets deeper in the legal weeds from there.

The SCOTUS won't rule on the case until next summer, and it's hard to guess whether the Lege takes this up again in January 2013. They probably can't get anything they want past the courts, and the only thing that is likely to change their tack is if a Justice Department has an attorney general appointed by a President Romney.

I wouldn't count on that.

Update: More from BOR and DBN. And this from Socratic Gadfly:

Beyond that, the loser is the Texas taxpayer, whom the Texas GOP falsely claims to love. Because of this ruling, if it stands, next year's Legislature will have to start over from ground zero. The interim maps cannot be used as a starting point. And, the GOP is probably likely to try to get away with something again, especially if Romney is elected. So, we'll waste more taxpayer money on more court battles, more state redistricting experts, etc.

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