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Federal Court Finds That Texas Intentionally Silenced Minority Voters

In case you needed more proof that Texas hates its minority population, look no further than their redistricting to weaken minority votes. Federal judges in a 2-to-1 decision delivered March 10 said that the redistricting, which happened in 2011, was intentionally drawn along racial lines to discriminate against minority voters, particularly Latinos. As a result of this decision, three congressional districts were invalidated (two of which are held by Republicans-Will Hurd and Blake Farenthold, with the other being held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett). These three districts are required to be redrawn so they no longer are unconstitutional or in violation of the Voting Rights Act, although the federal court in San Antonio has not instructed the state on how to redraw these districts.

U.S. District judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in their opinion,

“The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage.”

The third judge who did not share their opinions, Judge Jerry E. Smith, wrote:

“Texas redistricting in 2011 was essentially about politics, not race.”

And proceeded to criticize the Department of Justice for coming after Texas on a “witch hunt” and viewing “state officials and the legislative majority and their staffs as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots”. Despite Judge Smith’s claims, it would appear that the redistricting in 2011 was not about politics instead of race. In the same year, Texas passed a voter ID law that would have required proper identification to be shown in order to vote, disproportionally affecting minority voters.

The court decision has been celebrated by Democrats, who are hoping that the redistricting will help them in future elections to win more seats in Congress. Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said in response to the ruling:

“The federal court further confirmed what we’ve known all along: Texas intentionally discriminated to disenfranchise Latino and African-American voters.”

While this is widely considered a victory for voting rights, the fight may not be over, as Texas can still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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