By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court largely determined that the state’s redistricting maps were lawful, save for HD90 in Tarrant Co., and that the Legislature did not intentionally discriminate when drawing them.
The Court ruled that the lower three-judge court “committed a fundamental legal error” when it placed the burden of proof upon the state to show that the 2013 Legislature “had ‘cured’ the unlawful intent that the court attributed to the 2011 Legislature.” Instead, the lower court should have placed the burden on plaintiffs to “overcome the presumption of legislative good faith and show that the 2013 Legislature acted with invidious intent.”
Nearly a year ago, a three-judge federal panel struck down two congressional districts (CD27 and CD35) and nine state House districts (HD32, HD34, HD54, HD55, HD90, HD93, HD103, HD104 and HD105). The high court stayed those rulings a month later.
“When all the relevant evidence in the record is taken into account, it is plainly insufficient to prove that the 2013 Legislature acted in bad faith and engaged in intentional discrimination,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority (PDF). Instead, the record indicates the 2013 Legislature intended “to bring the litigation about the State’s districting plans to an end as expeditiously as possible.” Adopting the court-drawn maps was a valid way to achieve this goal, and the record provided “no evidence that the Legislature thought that the plans were invalid.” Even the changes the Legislature made to HD90 – the only district the high court invalidated – were made “at the behest of minority groups, not out of a desire to discriminate.”
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