Two of the state’s congressional districts were struck down by a unanimous panel of federal judges and must be redrawn: CD27, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi), and CD35, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin).
Judges determined that Hispanic/Latino voters in CD27 were “intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice” while CD35 was drawn predominantly on the basis of race. “The racially discriminatory intent and effects … previously found in the 2011 plans carry over into the 2013 plans where those district lines remain unchanged,” the court wrote in its 107-page ruling.
However, the court did not strike down other districts challenged by the suit’s plaintiffs. In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the court found that intentional discrimination woven into the 2011 plan was remediated in the 2013 plan, and plaintiffs failed to prove “that any alleged cracking and packing that remains in DFW was intentionally dilutive.” The court rejected claims against Houston-area districts.
Importantly, the court determined that CD23, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), “is a Latino opportunity district and there is no evidence of intentional discrimination/dilution.”
The court ordered the Office of the Attorney General to tell the court within three business days whether the Legislature intends to take up redistricting. The Legislature has adjourned sine die, and the state has previously informed the court that the Legislature would not address the subject. Absent legislative action, the Court will hold a hearing to consider remedial plans beginning September 5.
The ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas does not affect state House districts, and their status remains unresolved.
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