Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the political clout of minority voters in drawing the state’s House districts, a panel of federal judges ruled Thursday. In a long-awaited ruling, the San Antonio-based panel found that lawmakers in 2011 either violated the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting the strength of minority voters statewide and specifically in a litany of House districts across Texas. Those districts encompass areas including El Paso, Bexar, Nueces, Harris, Dallas and Bell counties. “The impact of the plan was certainly to reduce minority voting opportunity statewide, resulting in even less proportional representation for minority voters,” U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez wrote in a majority opinion, adding that map-drawers’ discussions “demonstrated a hostility” toward creating minority-controlled districts despite their massive population growth. In some instances, the judges ruled, map-drawers’ use of race to configure some districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act instead “turned the VRA on its head.”
“Instead of using race to provide equal electoral opportunity, they intentionally used it to undermine Latino voting opportunity,” they added.
The court also sided with plaintiffs on the issue of improper racial gerrymandering in Bexar County and violations of the one person, one vote rule — which requires districts to be drawn with roughly equal populations — in the drawing of nine House districts in Nueces, Hidalgo, Bell and Lampasas counties.
The 2-1 ruling came one month after the same court found intentional discrimination in the drawing of three Texas congressional districts. Like that ruling, however, the judges did not offer a remedy for the violations — leaving open the question of how the ruling will affect House races in 2018. Last week, a Corpus Christi-based judge again found intentional discrimination in the state’s 2011 voter ID law.
Full Article: Court: Texas House map intentionally diluted minority votes | The Texas Tribune.