Texas’ indignant reply to a bid for attorneys’ fees in a redistricting battle is “a case study in how not to respond,” a federal judge ruled, awarding the state’s opponents more than $1 million. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C., said Texas “basically ignore[d] the arguments supporting an award of fees and costs” to parties that had opposed the state’s lawsuit seeking approval of its 2011 redistricting plans. The Republican-controlled Legislature had redrawn election maps following a 2010 Census report that the state’s population had grown by more than 4 million since 2000. Voters and various advocacy groups called the 2011 plans discriminatory, saying they diluted the strength of minority votes. As the legal challenges mounted, Texas urged a panel of federal judges in Washington, D.C., to declare that its redistricting plans “fully comply” with the Voting Rights Act.
Texas was, at the time, one of nine states that had to receive preclearance of their redistricting plans from either the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, under the Voting Rights Act.
Helping the government argue against preclearance were voters, elected state representatives and civil rights advocacy groups, some of whom are plaintiffs in the Texas lawsuits.
They ultimately convinced the Washington judges to reject Texas’ redistricting plans, forcing the Texas court to impose a set of interim maps for the 2012 elections. The Texas Legislature ratified and adopted those interim maps, with a few changes, and repealed its 2011 maps late last June.
Full Article: Courthouse News Service.