A three judge panel outlined concerns about possible racial motivations in the state’s redistricting plan, which was the panel rejected last week.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued on behalf of the state to uphold the controversial plan, which includes radically re-drawn Congressional districts.
In the nearly 180 page opinion, Judge Thomas B. Griffin called the plan "a deliberate, race-conscious method to manipulate not simply the Democratic vote but, more specifically, the Hispanic vote."
Griffin also wrote about the impact on black voters, citing concerns raised by District 9 Congressman Al Green, who complained of “substantial surgery” to his Houston district, which removed The Medical Center, Astrodome and Houston Baptist University, which were described as “economic engines of the district.”
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson testified that the plan removed the American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks), as well as her district office and her home.
In San Antonio, Congressman Charlie Gonzalez saw his district office, The Alamo, and the convention center named after his father removed from his district.
Judge Griffin wrote that “no such surgery was performed on the districts of Anglo incumbents.”
Trinity University Political Science Professor Dr. David Crockett said such political maneuvers are common during redistricting, which is required every ten years.
“If you have one party that controls the redistricting process which would be the Republican Party in Texas, they're going to do so to their advantage as much as possible,” said Crockett.
Texas gained four new Congressional seats after the last census. Unfortunately, Crockett said, the attempt to secure those seats for the Republican Party can lead to re-drawing district lines in such a way that fractures the minority vote.
“For better or for worse, some of these partisan differences break down along ethnic lines,” said Crockett. “And so when you try to do things to carve out Republican districts, you're going to do that in a way that affects ethnic groups as well.”
As a result of the ruling, districts drawn by a panel of federal judges in Texas will be used for the upcoming election.
For a list of recent stories Simon Gutierrez has done, click here.