Trying again to force the city of Farmers Branch to create single member City Council districts.
The suit seeks an end at-large voting for City Council seats, arguing that the current method dilutes Hispanic voting strength. Nearly half the city is Hispanic, according to estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau over a three-year-period ending in 2008.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas on behalf of several Farmers Branch residents by the Bickel & Brewer Storefront. Bickel & Brewer is firm that has sued the city over an ordinance that bans landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. Federal judges have declared two versions of the rental ordinance to be unconstitutional.
A federal judge dismissed an earlier voting rights suit, one that was filed shortly after the May 2007 council elections. That suit was brought by a San Antonio attorney and Dallas lawyer Domingo García, whose firm is best known for its personal injury litigation.
The last news I heard on that was that the dismissal was being appealed to the Supreme Court. I presume SCOTUS did not agree to hear that appeal, or we’d have heard something more by now.
The new lawsuit was brought by 10 Spanish-surnamed residents. It said that under the current election system, all six City Council members could reside on the same block.
It noted that Hispanics are heavily concentrated in the northwestern part of the city. It said there are enough Hispanics within a small geographic area to allow a single-member district voting system in which Hispanics would form a majority in at least one district.
When the previous suit was dismissed, the judge wrote in his opinion that the plaintiffs did not prove that a majority-minority single-member district could be created. I’m guessing that this lawsuit is using updated Census figures to address that point. There are also more election results, such as this year’s in which all candidates were Anglo, that they can use. We’ll see if any of that makes a difference.