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Lone Star Project Report

Rep. Veasey and Fair Texas Plaintiffs File Suit to Overturn GOP Map

New legal challenge ramps up Texas congressional redistricting fight

Just moments ago, State Representative Marc Veasey (HD95 – Fort Worth) made good on his pledge to ask the federal courts to block the Republican congressional redistricting plan.

See the lawsuit here.

The Fair Texas Plaintiffs, led by Veasey, filed suit in federal court in San Antonio today challenging the partisan and racially gerrymandered Texas congressional map bullied through the Texas Legislature during last month’s special session. The suit claims that the Republican map violates the United States Voting Rights Act as well as several provisions of the United States Constitution.

Excerpts from the complaint:

  • Voting Rights Act Section 2 Violations
    “Though minority communities accounted for 90% of population growth between 2000 and 2010, and Texas received four additional congressional seats because of that explosive population growth, minorities only control one of the four new districts created under the State’s Plan. And though the Anglo population now comprises only 45% of Texas’ total population, Anglos control 72% of Texas’ congressional districts under the newly enacted map. This configuration constitutes an unlawful dilution of minority voting strength under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. “

  • Voting Rights Act Section 5 Violations
    “The State’s Plan was drawn with the purpose of, and has the effect of, minimizing and reducing the strength of minority populations in Texas. While the pre-2011 congressional map contains eleven effective minority opportunity districts, the State’s Plan contains only ten such districts. Reducing the number of effective minority opportunity districts constitutes unlawful retrogression under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

  • 14th Amendment Violations
    “That Republican leadership did not extend meaningful opportunities for effective participation in redistricting to those Representatives elected by communities of color and the general public is an affront to democratic values and is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Excluding minority Representatives of choice from the redistricting process also violates Article I, Sections 2 and 4 of the United States Constitution, as well as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The Veasey/Fair Texas filing sets the stage for an intense legal battle that will determine whether Texas leaders reflect the views of Texas voters. Over the next several months the case will likely involve federal courts in Texas, Washington DC and officials at the US Department of Justice.

Who are the key players?

In addition to Representative Veasey and the Fair Texas plaintiffs, other important plaintiff groups who have filed challenges against the map include those represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC). All now have cases pending in the San Antonio Federal Court and should be united in their opposition to the Texas Republican plan.

What’s at Stake?

The Texas congressional redistricting legal battle will have more impact on congressional races over the next decade than any individual candidate, any campaign decision or any political party tactic. The Republican map systematically reduces the voting strength of Hispanic and African American voters across Texas. Failing to fight the Republicans in court now would surrender at least three and as many as five congressional districts for the entire decade.

If the Republican racially gerrymandered plan stands, more than 54% percent of Texas Hispanics and more than 64% of Texas African Americans will be stranded in hopelessly Republican districts with no ability to have a meaningful impact on who represents them in Congress. In total, more than 7 million minority Texans will be stranded in Republican districts.