Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
In a major victory for the Obama administration's Justice Department, voting rights advocates, and for the rule of law, a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court ruled unanimously today that the Texas redistricting plan crafted by the Tea-Publican dominated Texas legislature intentionally discriminates against Latinos in violation of the Voting Rights Act. You're shocked, I'm sure. Federal Court: GOP’s Texas Redistricting Plan Intentionally Discriminated Against Hispanics | TPMMuckraker:
A redistricting plan signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled Tuesday. The judges found that seats belonging to white incumbent members of Congress were protected under the plan while districts belonging to incumbent minorities were targeted for changes.
The court was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent,” according to the ruling. There was “sufficient evidence to conclude that the Congressional Plan was motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent,” the court found.
All three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the law was intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”
All three redistricting plans — for Texas’ congressional delegation, its state House of Representatives and the state Senate — were blocked by the federal court. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that interim maps drawn by a federal court were invalid.
The panel of three judges found that “surgery” had been performed on congressional districts belonging to minority members of Congress while no such alterations were made to districts belonging to incumbent white members of Congress.
“Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren,” the judges wrote.
That country club reference is tied to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the House Oversight Committee that oversees the Justice Department.
You can read the opinion here (there was a partial dissent by Judge Griffith as to one district, who wrote most of the majority opinion as well).
Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog adds, Breaking News: Federal District Court Denies Preclearance of Texas Redistricting Plans [Now updated with analysis]:
I have now had a chance to take a quick look at this opinion [actually an opinion by Judge Griffiths on most of the analysis, with a separate opinion concerning a single congressional district, written by Judge Collyer]. Here are some thoughts.
1. This is a jurisprudentially significant decision, resolving a number of open questions about how to implement section 5 of the Voting Rights Act following the 2006 amendments. On first glance, it looks like the court resolved many of these issues in a sensible and clear-cut way, and rejected Texas’s alternative arguments as not supported by the text of the Voting Rights Act, congressional intent, or sound practices of experts who work on these kinds of cases. (Lots of kind words for the analysis of Handley, Engstrom, and Ansolabehere—less so for Texas’s expert.)
2. This will not affect the 2012 races, and so I don’t expect an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. I do expect an appeal, which would have to be resolved well before the 2014 primaries.
3. Most striking substantively about the ruling is that although the judges differ a bit on a technical point about what counts as a “crossover” district for purposes of retrogression, they agree unanimously about Texas discriminatory intent when it comes to the congressional redistricting.
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4. The evidence of discriminatory intent is important not just for the likelihood that the Supreme Court will affirm this decision even if it disagrees on some aspects of the retrogression standard. It also serves as some evidence which could be used to argue, in the Shelby County case or elsewhere, that covered jurisdictions still discriminate on the basis of race in making voting-related decisions. (If this was not done to Anglo Democrats, the evidence is even stronger than if it could be explained on the basis of pure partisanship.) The Court was careful to note that Texas did not challenge the constitutionality of section 5 in this case. And the Court rejected a number of Texas’s arguments that it should read section 5 narrowly to avoid a constitutional question. Whether the Supreme Court will agree with the district court on this point is anyone’s guess. Indeed, this case could be mooted if the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 (in the Shelby County case or another) before the Court decides this case on the merits.
The assault on the Voting Rights Act by Tea-Publicans, at the invitation of the Felonious Five on the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2009 decision, will be the most important case before the Court next term.