The Texas GOP's lengthy effort to create redistricting maps that federal judges say don't discriminate against minorities hit another snag today when a three-judge panel in D.C. threw out the latest plan.
The judges said the proposed maps failed to meet fairness standards using various tests and analyses.
It appears the judges weren't too impressed with Texas's presentation in court. "Significantly, the state's expert, Dr. John Alford, declined to offer an opinion on whether the enacted plans are retrogressive, even when this court directly addressed him on this point," one footnote reads. "The state's failure to produce testimony showing the enacted plans are not retrogressive may well be sufficient for us to find that Texas has not met its burden of proof" to get the plans approved."
This is all one more step on the journey to what one has to assume will be approved plans somewhere down the road. GOP leaders will appeal the decision, more orders will be issued, eventually things will work out. Right?
Attorney General Greg Abbott called the court's ruling today flawed:
Today's decision extends the Voting Rights Act beyond the limits intended by Congress and beyond the boundaries imposed by the Constitution. The Attorney General's Office will continue defending the maps enacted by the Texas Legislature and will immediately take steps to appeal this flawed decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Washington DC court's decision applies to the maps originally enacted by the Texas Legislature--so the November elections will proceed as planned under the interim maps drawn by the federal court in San Antonio
State Senator Rodney Ellis took the other side:
I applaud the DC Court's rejection of preclearance for Texas' redistricting maps. The court has ruled these plans discriminate against minority Texas voters but, most importantly, they upheld the heart of the Voting Rights Act.
The court clearly validated the importance of preclearance in voting procedures in states under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Everyone may not like it, but Texas and other states have a sad and unfortunate history of discriminating against minority voters, and not just in the bygone past. I am pleased the court continued to stress the need for vigilance on this critically important issue.
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