Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Court Tosses Out Texas Redistricting
After the last census was taken, it showed that the population in Texas had grown enough for the state to have an additional 4 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. And at least 90% (or more) of that growth was due to an increase in minority residents (mostly Hispanics and African-Americans). Now any fair redistricting proposal would have created 3 new Hispanic-majority districts and one with a majority of African-Americans (or at the very least, two new Hispanic seats and one new African-American seat).
But fairness is not a Republican value, and the state government in Texas is dominated by the Republican Party. The Texas GOP likes to talk about values, but that is just for the benefit of voters. The only value they really adhere to is doing whatever is necessary to stay in power (even if they have to cheat to do it), and that seems to be the value they followed in redistricting the state's congressional seats. When they were done, they had gerrymandered the state so that 3 new white Republican seats had been created and one Hispanic seat.
They knew what they had done was wrong and would not meet the standards outlined in the Voting Rights Act. That's why they didn't submit the new districts to the Justice Department for approval (as the law requires since Texas has a history of denying minority voting rights). Instead, they bypassed the Justice Department and submitted their plan to a federal court (counting on Republican-appointed judges to approve their illegal and racist plan).
The court has now made its decision. They tossed out the Republican redistricting plan in a 2 to 1 decision. The court wanted no part of the GOP's plan to deny minority voting rights. The court said:
"We conclude that Texas has not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose. Accordingly, we deny Texas declaratory relief. Texas has failed to carry its burden that (the Legislature's actions) do not have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act."
It is likely that the current election will be held under districts drawn by a San Antonio federal court for the primaries. But in the next legislative session (scheduled for January of 2013), the legislature is going to have to start over and draw new districts -- hopefully they will be districts that are much fairer to all Texans, including minorities.
This makes the down-ballot races, especially for the State House and Senate, very important this November. The Democrats will not be able to retake either body of the legislature, but they need to pick up enough seats to apply pressure to create fair districts.