If there’s one thing Texas seems to do well, that has to be disenfranchise and suppress minority voters. After the mostly Republican state legislature drew maps that were clearly, undeniably discriminatory from the 2010 census, minority rights groups immediately moved to sue for fairer maps. Now, for the majority of the decade, the state’s redistricting process has been caught up in court.
As Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune reports, the Redistricting War now enters year 8 as the Supreme Court finally wades in, this time at the request of Republicans…
Further extending a drawn-out legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case over whether Texas’ congressional and House district boundaries discriminate against voters of color.
The Supreme Court’s decision to weigh the state’s appeal will further delay any redrawing efforts even after almost seven years of litigation between state attorneys and voting and minority rights groups that challenged the maps. It’s unclear when the court will schedule oral arguments in the case, which is formally known as Abbott v. Perez.
In ruling against the maps last year, a three-judge panel in San Antonio sided with the voting and minority rights groups who accused Republican lawmakers of discriminating against voters of color, who tend to vote for Democrats, in drawing the maps. The state has denied targeting voters by race and admitted instead to practicing partisan gerrymandering by overtly favoring Republicans in drawing the districts.
The panel specifically flagged two congressional districts and nine House districts in four counties as problematic. But the Supreme Court in September temporarily blocked the lower court rulings — and any efforts to redraw the maps — in two 5-4 decisions as it considered the appeal from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
So in case you missed that, Texas Republicans are only denying blatant gerrymandering based on race, but they’re perfectly fine with blatant gerrymandering based on political party.
But at some point, the buck on this type of behavior has to stop. Surely the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court are smart enough to see the unfairness of of one neighborhood like Houston’s diverse Museum District being sliced, or cracked between three Congressional Districts (because you know, minorities). The practice of extreme gerrymandering, in combination with the state’s stringent Voter ID laws, should be more than enough evidence o the wrong that has been done. Even if the Republicans consider this a win, let’s hope it also presents an opportunity for fairness.