A majorly awaited ruling from the 5th Circuit on Texas's redistricting came down this week and it's a home run for the good guys as the 2-1 decision finds Texas Republicans indeed three drew districts in 2011 in order to specifically disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters in the state.
Ruling that Republicans redrew the Texas congressional map to intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters in a “rushed and secretive process,” a federal court panel invalidated three districts, including one in Travis County, in an order issued late Friday.
However, in voiding the districts, drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011, the San Antonio-based panel did not mandate or discuss any remedies to correct the problems.
But the long-awaited ruling has the potential to create more districts with larger populations of Latino voters “and probably more Democratic districts, which would be good for Democrats in Texas and also nationally,” said Michael Li, redistricting counsel at the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
The 2-1 ruling described a chaotic, hurried process that led to the 2011 congressional maps, redrawn to add four new districts, thanks to the state’s rapid population growth.
It was a time of “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigration and sanctuary cities, and the contentious voter ID law,” the court said.
The court criticized Republican lawmakers for providing “misleading” information about the new map’s impact on minority voters and noted that Democrats and minority advocates were shut out of the map-drawing process.
“The rushed and secretive process suggests that defendants did want to avoid scrutiny of whether their efforts in fact complied with the (Voting Rights Act) or were intended to do so, or whether they were only creating a facade of compliance,” said Friday’s order by U.S. District Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia.
What this means is that there's a very good chance that Justice Kennedy would side with the Supreme Court's four liberals on this, as the ruling is based off of Kennedy's findings in another Texas redistricting case from 2006 that voided another district for the same reason.
It also means that the counter-argument is garbage.
Writing in dissent, Justice Jerry Smith of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the majority’s order tended to “miss the forest for the trees.”
“Texas redistricting in 2011 was essentially about politics, not race. All sides concede that — whether it is a good thing or not — Texas has a strong correlation between race and party,” Smith wrote. “It naturally follows that actions taken to disadvantage Democrats will disproportionately affect non-Anglo voters, regardless of the intent.”
Got that? There's no way in Texas that drawing districts to hurt Democrats wouldn't harm non-white voters, so why bother protecting them? That's literally the definition of systemic racism, guys.
Texas can be placed back under federal pre-clearance of districts if the Supreme Court lets this stand. Unfortunately, the pre-clearance would be run by Jeff Sessions.
So in the long run? This ruling actually doesn't matter. Sessions will do everything he can to see that Texas Republicans are able to draw more districts that harm Democrats, black and Hispanic voters. Period.
Because Republicans are the party of systemic racism. Period.