After recording population growth between censuses of 2000 and 2010, Texas had to revise its districts for Congress and the two houses of the Texas Legislature. Greedy Republican sleazebags in the Legislature ("the sleazebags") have been caught trying to steal from African-American and Latino districts, when the sleazebags already enjoy big majorities.
Texas has a history of voting discrimination. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Texas must get federal approval to change election districts. In July, 2011, Texas sought approval from the federal appeals court for the DC Circuit. After more than a year of review, in late August, 2012, the appeals court found none of the Texas Legislature's three redistricting plans acceptable under U.S. law. [ Texas v. United States, No. 11-1303, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, August 28, 2012, preprint available from http://s3.amazonaws.com/static.texastribune.org/media/documents/redistricting20120828.pdf ]
According to the appeals court, "Texas must show that its redistricting plans have neither the effect nor the purpose of abridging minority voting rights." [p. 5] Texas failed to do that. Readers who have little patience with law could stop here. >>|||
U.S. law evolves over time and requires balancing of interests and comparison of situations. The sleazebags are moderately clever and did not build entirely ham-handed redistricting plans. They contracted with academic prostitutes to prepare defenses for their attempts at theft. That is part of why it took a year for the Court of Appeals to decide the case. The sleazebags used devious methods. For example, "Congressional District 23 and House District 117 were selectively drawn to include areas with high minority populations but low voter turnout, while excluding high minority, high turnout areas." [pp. 6, 32]
Of the 10-year Texas population growth, about 65 percent was Latino, 13 percent African-American and 10 percent Asian-American. The sleazebags connived to deny the new residents opportunities to elect shares of representatives. [p. 37] The sleazebags also tried to weaken districts that are now representated by minorities, such as the current Ninth Congressional District, from which they sliced out the Houston Medical Center, the Texas Astrodome and Houston Baptist University. [p. 39]
Texas tries to explain that such elements are mere "coincidence," but the closely reasoned opinion from the Court of Appeals dismisses those arguments, writing that "Black and Hispanic members of Congress testified at trial that they were excluded completely from the process of drafting new maps, while the preferences of Anglo members were frequently solicited and honored." [p. 41] In state senate districts, voters in minority-led coalitions were split into new districts with which they would have little in common, while "senators who represented minority districts were left out of the [redistricting] process." [pp. 46, 48]
Texas is going to have interim districts drawn by the federal District Court for West Texas, as a result of another lawsuit. That also found the sleazebags had tried to deprive minorities of voting rights. Although Texas won a Supreme Court decision rejecting the first set of court-drawn interm districts, it has had to accept a second set. [ Court releases interim redistricting plans, Lone Star Project, February 28, 2012, at http://www.lonestarproject.net/Permalink/2012-02-28.html ]