SCOTUS upholds Texas redistricting

Screw this.

Extinguishing the possibility that Texas could be placed back under federal electoral supervision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday pushed aside claims that lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color when they enacted the state’s congressional and state House maps.

In a 5-4 vote, the high court threw out a lower court ruling that had found that lawmakers intentionally undercut the voting power of Hispanic and black voters, oftentimes to keep white incumbents in office. The Supreme Court found that the evidence was “plainly insufficient” to prove that the 2013 Legislature acted in “bad faith.”

The Supreme Court also ruled that all but one of the 11 congressional and state House districts that had been flagged as problematic could remain intact. The one exception was Fort Worth-based House District 90, which is occupied by Democratic state Rep. Ramon Romero and was deemed an impermissible racial gerrymander because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in deciding its boundaries.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, which keeps all but one of the state’s districts in place through the end of the decade, is a major blow to the maps’ challengers — civil rights groups, voters of color and Democratic lawmakers — who since 2011 have been fighting the Republican-controlled Legislature’s post-2010 Census adjustment of district boundaries.


Joined by the court’s three other liberal justices, Justice Sonia Sotomayor denounced the majority’s opinion as a “disregard of both precedent and fact” in light of the “undeniable proof of intentional discrimination” against voters of color.

“Those voters must return to the polls in 2018 and 2020 with the knowledge that their ability to exercise meaningfully their right to vote has been burdened by the manipulation of district lines specifically designed to target their communities and minimize their political will,” Sotomayor wrote. “The fundamental right to vote is too precious to be disregarded in this manner.”

In siding with the state, the Supreme Court tossed out claims of intentional vote dilution in state House districts in Nueces County and Bell County as well as claims that Hispanic voters were “packed” into Dallas County districts to minimize their influence in surrounding districts. The high court also rejected challenges to Congressional District 27 — where the lower court said lawmakers diluted the votes of Hispanics in Nueces County — and Congressional District 35, which the lower court flagged as an impermissible racial gerrymander.

But perhaps most significant on the voting rights front was the Supreme Court’s ruling that the state could be not be held liable for intentional discrimination of Hispanic and black voters.

See here and here for the background. The opinion is here if you have the stomach for it. You sure can accomplish a lot if you close your eyes and wave away evidence. I don’t know what else there is for me to say, so I’ll just refer you to Pema Levy, Ian Millhiser, Martin Longman, and Mark Joseph Stern. What Rick Hasen wrote five years ago sure looks prescient now.

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5 Responses to SCOTUS upholds Texas redistricting

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    So, the only district the SCOTUS found to be problematic because of racial gerrymandering turns out to be a Latino area. Maybe we can finally get that map redrawn to give blacks in that area a chance to elect a candidate. I’m glad the SCOTUS came out against racial gerrymandering. Solid decision.

  2. Manny Barrera says:

    The Supreme Court is a partisan racist club, the latest member is an illegitimate member courtesy of the Russians via Trump.

  3. Christopher Busby says:

    I’m honestly really interested in what is going to happen to hd 90 now but almost no coverage gives clues to what will happen. Do they have to create a second opportunity hispanic district in the area? Will one of the surrounding Republican districts become more swing? Also who controls the new district lines the courts or the lege? Will this happen in time for next session.

  4. Jules says:

    How can they redraw just one district? What am I missing?

  5. Mainstream says:

    My understanding: on remand the panel of judges could require redrawing of the Tarrant County districts including HD 90 prior to the November election, but would generally give the Governor deference to call a special session for that purpose. Alternately, the court could adopt a remedial plan for use in Nov. 2018, or allow the regular session of the legislature to rework the lines. In either event, adjacent districts will be affected and would likely be less safe for the GOP, but maybe not enough to change outcomes.

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