Federal Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Texas Congressional District Lines

The plan carved up Latino areas, thus limiting Latino political strength in south and west Texas, the judges said.

A federal court ruled 2-1 that Republicans racially gerrymandered three Texas congressional districts.

The ruling indicates that Texas Republicans intentionally designed three districts to work in their favor by reducing minority voters. The majority ruled the districts, drawn in 2011, violated both the 14th Amendment and the federal Voting Rights Act. "I expect the post-Kennedy Gorsuch Supreme Court to be quite hostile to voting rights claims, allowing much partisan gerrymandering and minority vote dilution without adequate court supervision". It's now up to Texas to decide if it'll appeal the court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The judges also said Republicans tried to use race to unseat Doggett, by making a primary challenge by a Hispanic candidate more likely given the new demographics of his district.

In the decision announced late on Friday, U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia in San Antonio found that the districts' shapes diluted minority voters' power, either by splitting communities into different districts or concentrating minorities in a single area to limit their sway.

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Several groups sued Texas in 2011 after claiming that congressional districts were drawn unconstitutionally and were meant to harm minority voters.

The ruling comes as the Lone State's Latino population grew, adding four additional congressional seats after the 2010 Census.

"All sides concede that - whether it is a good thing or not - Texas has a strong correlation between race and party", he wrote.

"It was obvious, from the start, that the DOJ attorneys viewed state officials and the legislative majority and their staffs as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots who bemoan the abolition of the poll tax and pine for the days of literacy tests and lynchings", he wrote.

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The ruling specifically named three congressional districts that need to be withdrawn- District 23, District 27, and District 35.

The stakes in finding discriminatory intent are higher because it provides a window for opponents to argue that Texas should be forced to resume having changes to voting laws "pre-cleared" by the Justice Department or a federal court.

"This long-awaited decision demonstrates yet again that serious voting rights violations continue to occur, and that the vote-suppression deniers in Congress are delusional", said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.

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