A Corpus Christi federal judge on Wednesday rejected a challenge seeking to end statewide elections for Texas’ highest criminal and civil courts. The lawsuit, filed by Latino voters and an organization founded by the late civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, argued that statewide elections for members of the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals improperly dilute Latino voting strength and deny Latinos the right to elect a candidate of their choice. Ordering Texas to adopt single-member districts, the lawsuit argued, would correct the Voting Rights Act violation by creating at least two Latino-majority voting districts — based in the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas — for the nine-member courts.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos disagreed, even though she found that there is a racial divide among Texas voters and that white voters tend to vote as a block, typically defeating “the minority’s preferred candidate” for the state’s highest courts.
The problem, Ramos said, is that the challengers failed to prove that those electoral defeats were caused by race or racism.
A better predictor of electoral success, the judge noted, is party affiliation, and Latino voters tend to support Democrats in a state that has elected only Republicans to statewide political offices since 1996.
Full Article: U.S. judge rejects challenge to Texas court elections.