There are only two Latinos out of 18 judges on Texas’ highest courts, and a federal trial that started Monday will examine voters’ claims that the state’s electoral system for these courts dilutes the Latino vote. La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, a nonprofit founded by the late migrant-rights activist Cesar Chavez, claims the election system for the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is rigged against Latinos. Joined by seven Latino Texans, LUPE sued Texas in July 2016, alleging the state’s at-large system for electing judges for these courts dilutes the Latino vote in violation of the Voting Rights Act. LUPE is represented by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C. nonprofit, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. LUPE overcame Texas’ arguments that it lacks standing by citing some startling statistics about the history of Hispanic judges on the courts.
“Since 1945, only five of the 76 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, a mere 6.6 percent, were Latino. During the same period, 69 of those 76 justices, or 89.5 percent, were white,” LUPE said in its first amended complaint, filed in September 2016. “Since 1945, only two of the 48 judges to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals, or 4.2 percent, were Latino. During the same period, 44 of those 48 judges, or 91.7 percent, were white.”
When a vacancy comes up on either court, the governor appoints a replacement, who serves until the next general election and can then run for the seat.
“No Latino candidate has ever won election to either court without first being appointed by the governor,” the amended complaint states.
Full Article: Texas Defends Against Latino Voting-Rights Claims.