Three federal judges invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts Tuesday, ruling them intentionally discriminatory against minorities, while ordering Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to inform them within three days whether the Texas legislature would redraw the lines themselves.
“[T]he Court concludes that the racially discriminatory intent and effects that it previously found in the 2011 plans carry over into the 2013 plans where … district lines remain unchanged,” the judges wrote in a unanimous opinion. “The Legislature in 2013 intentionally furthered and continued the existing discrimination in the plans.”
Texas Democrats hailed the ruling as a victory.
“Intentional discrimination is a bad habit for the Texas Legislature,” said Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. “With the seventh ruling of intentional discrimination since 2011, a federal court confirmed today that Texas congressional maps remain unconstitutional.”
“The court’s decision makes clear that intentional discrimination has become business as usual for Texas Republicans,” said Matt Angle, who runs the Lone Star Project. “They equate retaining leadership with discrimination and vote suppression.”
However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed mixed emotions about Tuesday’s ruling.
“We appreciate that the panel ruled in favor of Texas on many issues in the case. But the portion of the ruling that went against Texas is puzzling considering the Legislature adopted the congressional map the same court itself adopted in 2012,” the Republican said in a written statement. “We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas had discriminatory intent when relying on the district court.”
The Hill added:
The ruling is the third this year by the San Antonio-based court striking down some element of Texas’s congressional district lines. The case did not address the state House district lines, which have also been challenged by Democratic and minority voters. That case remains on the docket.