Yesterday, the Department of Justice wrote in a filing Texas’ redistricting map violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The redistricting maps were approved by 2012 presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Because of the burgeoning Hispanic population in the state Texas will gain as many as four new House seats. The fear is that even though the number of Hispanics has increased significantly between the 2000 census and the 2010 census, when it comes to voting they are at a disadvantage. Between 2000 and 2010 the state of Texas added approximately 4.3 million residents, 65% of which came from Hispanics. The Republican legislature in Texas drew redistricting maps with very few new districts that favored the election of Latinos. Essentially, Hispanics in Texas were gerrymandered into specific districts in an attempt to weaken their influence as a voting bloc.
Luis Vera a lawyer representing the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the SFgate.com last week,
The state’s argument is that nothing they’ve done is intentional, but every congressman warned them this map would violate the Voting Rights Act and wouldn’t pass Justice Department approval in Washington,” Luis Vera, a lawyer representing the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, in the trial, said in an interview yesterday.
Vera said the U.S. Supreme Court standard is “if you know what the effect of an action is going to be, that’s intent because you knew what was going to happen.
It sounds like the Republican legislature ignored warnings that their gerrymandered mapswould violated the Voting Rights Act. It’s hard to believe that a political party would use gerrymandering to achieve a partisan advantage! #snark
With the battle for the White House in 2012 shaping up between President Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry it will be interesting to see how Perry plays this move by the DOJ in his campaign. With rhetoric that is extremely anti-government, a move by the DOJ seems to play right into his hands for the primary, but with experts saying the DOJ acted in a routine manner.