After the Justice Department declined to object to the new State Senate map under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Wendy Davis filed a lawsuit in the federal court in San Antonio challenging it on other grounds.
State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, both Democrats, joined Davis as plaintiffs in the suit.
“The State’s proposed state senate plan was drawn with the purpose, and has the effect, of minimizing and reducing the voting strength of minority populations in the Tarrant and Dallas counties area of North Texas,” the lawsuit reads.
Earlier this year, state Republicans redrew the state’s political boundaries to reflect population growth. The maps are now subject to lawsuits in San Antonio and Washington, D.C.
Regarding the map of the state’s 31 senate districts, Fort Worth-based District 10 has drawn the most attention as urban minority communities that strongly backed Davis in 2008 were put into suburban districts.
The new map puts African-American communities in Southeast Fort Worth, Everman and Forest Hill in a district which stretches to Waco. The heavily-Hispanic northside of Fort Worth was moved to district that includes much of Denton County.
You cam see the complaint here, and Davis’ press release here. There’s nothing factually wrong with anything being alleged about the division of Tarrant County – there’s no question that minority communities were sliced up and dealt like cards to different Republican districts anchored in suburban and rural areas – the question is whether or not any of it is actually illegal. Simply being wrong isn’t sufficient, unfortunately.
Though Justice didn’t formally object to the Senate map, it still has to be precleared. Preclearance has been granted to the SBOE map, which as noted there was not a big surprise. In the meantime, there likely won’t be a trial to determine the status of the disputed Congressional and State House maps until November.
[T]he panel in the state’s section pre-clearance suit entered a scheduling order this afternoon.
The order directs the parties to submit a list of disputed state house and congressional districts by 5:00 p.m. Friday, September 23, with statements, to the extent possible, of the nature of the defendants’ objections.
The panel also directed that the defendants file responses to the state’s motion for summary judgment by October 25 and gave the state until October 31 to reply.
The panel also allowed a period of discovery to conclude on October 25.
I’ll be very eager to see the list of disputed districts. We know which districts came under scrutiny in San Antonio, but Justice may have its own objections. We should know more on this tomorrow.