By Ross Ramsey of The Texas Tribune
Texas lawmakers didn’t comply with the Voting Rights Act when they drew new maps for congressional, state Senate and state House districts, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Tuesday.
“We conclude that Texas has failed to show that any of the redistricting plans merits preclearance,” the court said.
The court wasn’t ruling on interim maps drawn by federal judges — the maps in use for the current election — but on those drawn by state lawmakers last year. Lawyers are still looking through the opinions for anything that might disrupt the current elections.
“We conclude that Texas has not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose,” the judges said in their opinion. “Accordingly, we deny Texas declaratory relief. Texas has failed to carry its burden that Plans C185, S148, and H283 do not have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”
That section of the voting law is designed to keep new maps from eroding the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. The court singled out problems in congressional districts 23 and 27 and in several state House districts.