Texas has been ordered to “do a redraw” of Congressional Districts by three Federal Judges who say that the present lines are intentionally discriminatory against Hispanic voters. The verdict, which will likely be contested in the Supreme Court, refers specifically to Republicans redrawing lines through majority Hispanic areas (usually Democrat) to “dilute” the vote with more historically republican areas.
The Judges said on Tuesday that “congressional districts held by Reps. Blake Farenthold (R) and Lloyd Doggett (D) were drawn with the intent to diminish the political power of minority voters.” Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold’s district (which he won in 2010 from the Democrats) was known as a more “left-leaning” district. Legislators have been accused of using race as a determining factor in redrawing the Congressional boundaries. The unanimous verdict declares that these actions “intentionally” deprive Hispanic voters from electing a candidate of their choice.
Texas Democrats are calling this a big win. Matt Angle, head of Democrat PAC, the Lone Star Project. He said “The court’s decision makes clear that intentional discrimination has become business as usual for Texas Republicans,” and that “they equate retaining leadership with discrimination and vote suppression.”
Critics of the verdict are accusing the Lone Star Project of doing precisely what they have accused the Republicans of doing. They suggest that the LSP exists NOT to promote enfranchisement, but to secure minority votes in the assumption that Hispanics tend to vote Democrat. The accusations include charges of “race-based and Identitarian politics” and stereotyping Hispanic voters.
This ruling means that two of Texas’ 36 Congressional District boundaries will have to be redrawn in the run-up to the key 2018 elections. The 107 page ruling is the result of six years of legal challenges that will likely not stop at this Judicial level. Advocates of the redrawing will try to use this ruling regarding Congressional Districts as a platform to move forward on redrawing State House maps as well.
As reported in the Texas Tribune:
“Before Tuesday’s decision, the judges had already ruled that the Texas Legislature sought to weaken the strength of Latino and black voters while drawing state House and congressional districts in 2011, immediately following the 2010 U.S. Census. But the 2011 maps never actually took effect.”
Boundary redrawing is a contentious issue that is a “second level” of campaign politics; experts suggest that in districts that have a marginal vote, the redrawing of lines can be enough to swing the area without any need for other platform alterations.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.