US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Texas Redistricting Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today heard arguments in Abbott v. Perez, the lawsuit over the redrawing of political districts by the Republican dominated Legislature, a case that has been bouncing through the courts for seven years, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Justices Heard from Allison Riggs, Senior Attorney for the NCAAP, who is arguing for the various groups which claim the political districts were redrawn improperly after the 2010 Census to illegally use race to tilt the scales in favor of Republicans.

“Nearly 90% of Texas’ population growth from 2000 to 2010 was amongst people of color, yet the state legislature devised a scheme in redistricting plans that caused voters of color to lose political representation after the 2010 Census," Riggs said.  "That’s wrong as a matter of common sense to anyone with a basic sense of fairness. And it’s wrong as a matter of law because the lower court found that it was the result of intentionally discriminatory line drawing.”

Texas Republicans were represented by Solicitor General Scott Keller, who told the high court that the maps that the groups claim were illegally drawn by the Republican Legislature were actually drawn by a state district court, under orders from the U.S. Supreme Court.

"In 2012, a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court ordered the U.S. District Court in San Antonio to draw interim maps ‘that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.’ The Supreme Court repeated that command to draw lawful maps six times in its opinion," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. "Once the district court had redrawn those maps in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive, the district court explained in exhaustive detail how it satisfied every ‘plausible’ constitutional or statutory objection and the maps ‘were not purposefully discriminatory.’ Many people, including myself, assumed that the state was putting the issue to rest when the Texas Legislature adopted the maps that the district court had drawn."

Paxton blasted what he called the 'double standard' argument presented by the plaintiffs.  

“The double standard is painfully obvious: when the court draws the maps, they are lawful; when the Texas Legislature adopts the very same maps, somehow they are not?"

The issue the Supreme Court will have to decide--it is legal for lawmakers to draw political boundaries that will advantage their party. But it is not legal to draw political boundaries that discriminate against minority voters.  Since voting in Texas is very closely driven by race and ethnicity, with Anglo voters largely Republican, Hispanic voters largely Democrat, and African American voters overwhelmingly Democrat, the court will have to decide which the Texas Legislature did.

A ruling is expected by June, just in time for a new decade-long challenge to be made to the maps that will be drawn following the 2020 Census.

And, to muddy the waters even more, Anglo voters in Dallas County are suing under the Voting Rights Act, claiming the majority Latino and African American population in Dallas County approved redistricting maps which disadvantage Anglo Republicans.

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