DC Federal Court rules that Texas’ statewide redistricting maps violate the Voting Rights Act.

SCSJ and the Texas State NAACP have scored a huge win: a panel of judges in D.C. rejected all three of Texas’ statewide redistricting maps as violating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The DC Court found that the Texas Congressional redistricting plan would have a discriminatory and retrogressive effect on minority voters. It also found that that the plan was motivated by discriminatory intent, based largely on evidence presented by SCSJ and the NAACP on how the state intentionally carved up the districts of the three black members of Congress from Texas so as to undermine the effectiveness of those districts. That finding of intentional discrimination may aid advocacy groups in defending Section 5 as a necessary voting rights tool. Additionally, despite the fact that the Department of Justice refused to defend Congressional District 25, the NAACP and other intervenors were able to persuade the court that the district was one in which minority voters must be protected.
The NAACP and SCSJ, with other groups, likewise convinced the DC court that the Senate redistricting plan must be rejected as intentionally discriminatory.

In the State House plan, the NAACP and SCSJ were able to protect the only district in which an Asian-American candidate is elected to the Texas State House of Representatives.
Finally, the decision presents strong language on the protection of coalition and crossover districts under Section 5, and will be a useful tool in defending those types of minority opportunity districts going forward.

For national comment on the significance of the opinion see: