Texas Federal Court Finds Discriminatory Intent in Congressional Maps

SAN ANTONIO, TX – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an opinion today in Perez v. Abbott, a case challenging Texas’ 2013 statewide redistricting plan, finding that the same racial and ethnic discrimination that existed in the state’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan was still present in the 2013 plans where the district lines remain unchanged.

The Court has ordered the Texas Attorney General to file a written advisory to the state Legislature within three days to inquire whether or not the Legislature intends to take up redistricting to fix the violations. If the Legislature does not intend to engage in redistricting, the Court has set a hearing date of September 5, 2017, to consider remedial plans submitted by the parties to the lawsuit.

Earlier this year, the Court not only found that several Texas congressional and statehouse districts drawn in 2011 diluted minority voting strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act, but also that the districts were drawn with the intent of discriminating against African-American and Latino voters.

Allison Riggs, Senior Voting Rights Attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who litigated the case, issued the following statement about the Court’s decision:

“The current congressional maps in Texas are just as discriminatory as the maps we saw before them. Rather than draw fair maps, legislators have diminished African-American and Latino voters’ power and separated them into districts based solely on their race, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. It’s well past time for the Legislature to fix these violations, and we appreciate the Court’s rejection of the government’s effort to discriminate against voters based on race and ethnicity.”

The opinion in the case can be found at http://bit.ly/PerezAbbott