Add another redistricting lawsuit to the pile.
Brought by state Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, the lawsuit is another attempt to get a three-judge panel hearing redistricting cases to reconsider the entire state map by focusing on how the districts are drawn around the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
“You want to show that, statewide, 90 percent of the growth has been minority and to show that you can make a map that is a lot more reflective of that,” Veasey said. “(Republicans) figured out how to draw another seat for voters who are shrinking in population.”
Veasey’s lawsuit filed in San Antonio argues that two additional minority majority districts should be added to the Metroplex, one for Hispanic voters and another for African-Americans.
“A lot of people fail to realize that the Metroplex has the second-fastest-growing African-American population in the country,” Veasey said.
Republicans have staunchly defended their redistricting map against Democratic charges that it shortchanges minority voters.
“It’s a purely partisan statement,” said Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who led the redistricting effort in the Texas Senate. Efforts to avoid drawing oddly shaped districts that could be overturned in court made it harder to reflect the state’s minority population growth in the new maps, Seliger contended.
Excerpts from the complaint:
- Voting Rights Act Section 2 Violations
“Though minority communities accounted for 90% of population growth between 2000 and 2010, and Texas received four additional congressional seats because of that explosive population growth, minorities only control one of the four new districts created under the State’s Plan. And though the Anglo population now comprises only 45% of Texas’ total population, Anglos control 72% of Texas’ congressional districts under the newly enacted map. This configuration constitutes an unlawful dilution of minority voting strength under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
- Voting Rights Act Section 5 Violations
“The State’s Plan was drawn with the purpose of, and has the effect of, minimizing and reducing the strength of minority populations in Texas. While the pre-2011 congressional map contains eleven effective minority opportunity districts, the State’s Plan contains only ten such districts. Reducing the number of effective minority opportunity districts constitutes unlawful retrogression under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
- 14th Amendment Violations
“That Republican leadership did not extend meaningful opportunities for effective participation in redistricting to those Representatives elected by communities of color and the general public is an affront to democratic values and is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Excluding minority Representatives of choice from the redistricting process also violates Article I, Sections 2 and 4 of the United States Constitution, as well as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
I was on Houston8 with Ernie Manouse on Friday, talking about the special session, and got into it over redistricting with Sen. Dan Patrick, who made the standard claim about how diffuse the Latino population is and how that makes it hard to draw fair districts for them. The problem with that, and I wish I had said it more clearly, is that when someone then tries to draw a minority-opportunity district or two, as Veasey did during the session, people complain about “gerrymandering”, as if that would not apply even more to the things that were done to prevent the creation of such districts. If you take the “too diffuse” argument to its logical end, the “solution” is for Latinos to pack themselves into designated areas instead. I’m sorry, but when more than a half dozen plausible maps are presented for consideration that draw winnable Latino seats, then “too diffuse” becomes an excuse, not an argument.
Anyway. We’ll see what the courts have to say. I had previously noted fourteen other lawsuits; the story referenced five. I’m sure several have been combined by now. Whatever the case, we likely won’t see resolution for several years; my prediction remains that we’ll have some changes to districts for the 2016 election.