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Supreme Court Upholds Gerrymandered Texas Maps

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By Kenneth White

In a 5-4 ruling, The Supreme Court on Monday​ upheld Texas’s maps for its congressional seats and state-House districts, both of which had been thrown out by a three-judge federal district court for discriminating against minority voters. The maps in contention were drawn by Republicans before the 2010 census, and were consequently challenged by several groups contending they violated the 14th amendment equal protection clause. The same maps were then used to draw up interim maps for voting after the 2010 census, with the intention being that they would be revised by lawmakers later. Instead, the Texas legislature adopted the interim maps as its own.

In the decision, largely written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court places the burden on the challengers to show that the 2013 Texas Legislature acted with discriminatory intent, and that the Legislature was not obligated to show that it had ‘cured’ the unlawful intent that the court attributed to the 2011 Legislature, with one exception in the Fort Worth area which had been significantly modified. Justice Alito wrote House District 90 “is an impermissible racial gerrymander,” and directed the lower court to draft a remedy.

The dissent, written by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, contended that, “After years of litigation and undeniable proof of intentional discrimination, minority voters in Texas — despite constituting a majority of the population within the State — will continue to be underrepresented in the political process.” Justice Sotomayor was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. “The fundamental right to vote is too precious to be disregarded in this manner.”

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