Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr creative common
A federal court has ruled that the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against black and brown voters when creating state congressional districts in 2011 — and then failed to fix this racist line-drawing in 2013.
In a long-awaited
107-page decision, the three judge panel ruled that the GOP-led Texas Legislature had drawn two congressional districts to favor the votes of white, conservative voters — and not reflecting the growing population of Latino and African-American (and predominately liberal) voters. The districts at fault are 27, represented by Corpus Christi Congressman Blake Farenthold, and 35, a district including parts of San Antonio represented by Congressman Lloyd Doggett.
The judges write that Doggett's district, which runs up I-35, touching parts of Austin and San Antonio was drawn using "race as a tool for partisan goals."
"What Republicans did was not just wrong, it was unconstitutional," Doggett wrote in a Tuesday press statement.
In Corpus Christi's District 27 district, the judges write, "Hispanic voters were intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice."
And even when the Legislature was given an option to fix the problem in 2013 — after voting rights groups sued the state for discriminatory redistricting — they purposefully decided not to, the court argued.
"There is no evidence that the Legislature engaged in any meaningful deliberation in 2013 to cleanse such discriminatory intent, and in fact they intended to maintain any such discrimination," the judges write.
Congressman Farenthold, known for his recent interest in challenging female Senators to a duel
(that is, if they were South Texas men), has yet to comment on the ruling.
The court ordered the Texas Attorney General’s Office to let the know within three business days whether the legislature would kick off another special session to fix the redistricting violations. If AG Ken Paxton refuses, the state and voting rights lawyers will head back to the federal courthouse on Sept. 5 to begin re-drawing the maps.
It's expect Paxton will appeal the District Court's ruling to the Supreme Court. In a Tuesday statement, Paxton said, "the portion of the ruling that went against Texas is puzzling...We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas had discriminatory intent when relying on the district court.”
The court did not comment on Texas' equally contentious House District maps
, which remain tangled in court litigation.