U.S. Supreme Court likely to hear Texas redistricting case

Federal panel finds 'intentional' discrimination

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to hear the Texas redistricting case in which a three-judge federal panel ruled against the state in a 2-1 decision. 

"The state of Texas purposely and intentionally, with full knowledge of what they were doing, discriminated against Latinos and African-American voters," said Luis Vera, the national general counsel of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, who has argued the case over the last several years.

Vera said the panel was specifically referring to the redistricting map drawn in 2011, which affects many urban and rural areas of Texas, including Bexar County. He said similar rulings have been handed down before Thursday's decision.

"In (Washington), D.C, the federal court in Corpus (Christi), the federal courts in San Antonio, the Fifth Court of Appeals," Vera said.

Vera said the lone dissenting judge considered the 2011 map "partisan gerrymandering."

"Why is it that when the majority of Democrats are white Anglo, yet the only ones affected are Latino and black Democrats?" Vera asked.

He said both sides will return to federal court in San Antonio next week for a status hearing. 

Vera said it's expected if Governor Greg Abbott calls a special legislative session, Texas lawmakers will have the first crack at fixing the 2011 map. If not, the federal judges will step in, Vera said.

Vera said there also could be a state and federal compromise. 

Vera said the lines must be redrawn by 2018. He said even then, a new map is required after the U.S. Census in 2020. 

In a statement, Attorney General Ken Paxton said the ruling was moot because the current map drawn in 2013 is a compromise following a court challenge at the time. But Vera said it was a temporary fix after the Supreme Court sent back the 2011 map.

Link: Order on Plan H283

Link: Fact Findings - Plan H283

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.