With deadlines looming for the upcoming May elections, a federal appeals court has agreed to hear arguments Feb. 1 in a voting rights lawsuit that overturned the Pasadena election system. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether to temporarily halt the order from the Houston judge until after the appeals are exhausted. But that would leave in place an election system that has been found discriminatory against Latinos. The Fifth Circuit court set an expedited hearing at the Bob Casey Courthouse in Houston for lawyers to present argument as to why the city should or should not proceed with its May elections for city council positions using a 2011 map of eight single-member district seats as directed by a federal judge in Houston.
The appellate court will focus on a request by Pasadena’s lead attorney in the high-profile voting rights case to temporarily halt the district court’s order for Pasadena to hold its May election using eight district positions, instead of a 2014 scheme that passed by a narrow margin of voters that uses six single-member and two at-large seats.
Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston ruled earlier this month that the new structure for city council elections was promoted by city leaders deliberately to dilute the voting strength of the city’s robust Hispanic population.