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Court finds more racial gerrymandering in Texas voting maps
21 April 2017, 05:35 | Jodi Jackson
Court again finds intentional voter discrimination in Texas
According to the ruling, legislators reduced the number of house districts in Harris County, even though minority population growth argued for the creation of new seats. The ruling is the latest challenge to Texas in a legal battle over the past six years centered on its map redrawing as part of Plan H283 enacted by the 82nd Legislature in 2011. In House Districts 103, 104 and 105 in Dallas County, the court said, Republicans drawing the map violated the VRA.
"Plaintiffs will ... discuss next steps in ensuring that these violations are corrected before the 2018 elections", said Allison Riggs, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Arlington Rep. Chris Turner, the leader of the House Democratic Caucus, said the court's findings were "shameful and unacceptable - new maps must be drawn immediately". In a dissenting opinion, Fifth Circuit appeals court judge Jerry Smith, the sole voice of dissent in both that case and in Thursday's redistricting ruling, called the finding of bias a "misunderstanding" and that the maps were just retooled for "partisan advantage".
Late Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement in response to the ruling. In March, a three-judge panel ruled that the state's congressional map unconstitutionally limits the effects of votes cast by Texas' ethnic minorities.
"We respectfully disagree with the redistricting panel's 2-1 decision", Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said.
The panel found that the Legislature's drawing of the House map as a whole had intentionally diluted votes and specifically diluted them in nearly all of the state's urban counties, including Dallas, El Paso, Tarrant, Harris and Bexar. "Accordingly, we are confident we will ultimately prevail in this case".
Earlier this month, a federal judge based in Corpus Christi found for a second time that lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters with a law requiring an approved photo ID at the polls.
Racial gerrymandering in Bexar County (HD 117).
Garcia was appointed by President Bill Clinton and had served as a Democratic member of the Texas House.
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