Judges invalidate three gerrymandered congressional districts in Texas

"If you set out to draw a map for political reasons, it will often look like you are drawing it for racial reasons", Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of the Texas Tribune said, "and the courts decided in this case that they went over the line and that they drew for racial reasons and that they went too far".

"The Court finds that this evidence persuasively demonstrates that mapdrawers intentionally packed and cracked on the basis of race (using race as a proxy for voting behavior) with the intent to dilute minority voting strength", U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez wrote in the majority opinion, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.

The long-awaited ruling does not instruct the state on how to remedy the problem, but it does state three districts were drawn with the intent of "packing" Hispanic voters into their own heavily Democratic districts, thereby making other districts easier for Republicans to win.

A federal panel ruled Friday that three of Texas's Congressional districts, including the 35th, shown here, were illegally drawn by the state's Republicans. Districts 23 and 27, represented by Republicans Will Hurd and Blake Farenthold, respectively, were also invalidated by the decision.

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Only by reading the voluminous lawsuits filed against the state can one appreciate just how creative Texas Republicans had to be to so successfully dilute and suppress the state's minority vote.

Texas Democrats hailed the ruling a win for voting rights, but the dispute might not be over.

Texas was forced ahead of the November election to weaken its voter ID law, which allows concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs, after a federal appeals court found that the requirements particularly hampered minorities and the poor. But U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith, in a blistering dissent, had strong words for Obama administration attorneys after they joined the case.

"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. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling did away with preclearance by striking down a key provision in the federal Voting Rights Act. These voters' needs must be addressed, they said. "Texas taxpayers will pay a hefty price for this decision, all because the Supreme Court effectively nullified the more efficient and cost-effective pre-clearance mechanism four years ago".


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