SAN ANTONIO, TX – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has issued a partial opinion in Perez v. Abbott, a case challenging Texas’ 2011 statewide redistricting plans, striking down several U.S. Congressional districts in the state. The case has been pending since 2011 when the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and co-counsel challenged the redistricting plans on behalf of the Texas NAACP and three individual Texas voters.
The Court not only found that several Texas Congressional districts diluted minority voting strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act, but also that the districts were drawn with the intent of discriminating against black and Latino voters. While the decision involves districts in Southwest Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it is likely that other districts will be impacted when the districts are redrawn. With this finding of intentional racial discrimination, SCSJ and others will vigorously seek to have Texas “bailed in” under the Voting Rights Act, or once again subject to federal preclearance before any voting changes are implemented.
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:
“We are pleased that the court recognized and rejected the intentional discrimination that occurred when lawmakers drew Texas’ Congressional districts in 2011. One of America’s core values is that the government cannot discriminate based on race. This ruling confirms that legislatures are not free to mask racial discrimination with party politics. It’s well past time for Texas lawmakers to draw fair Congressional and state legislative districts that allow the people and communities of the state to participate in their government without prejudice or bias.”
The opinion in the case can be found at http://bit.ly/PerezOpinion
The finding of facts in the case can be found at http://bit.ly/PerezFacts
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice also successfully challenged unconstitutional redistricting maps in North Carolina in Covington v. North Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering the writ certiorari in that case.