Victory for the NAACP in Texas Redistricting Case

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice has been representing the Texas State Conference of Branches of the NAACP in ongoing litigation over Texas’s statewide redistricting plans. On Friday, November 25, a three-judge panel in Texas ordered the implementation of a court-drawn interim plan for Congressional elections in 2012. This plan corrects almost all of the major problems that the NAACP identified in the state’s enacted plan.
In the court-drawn plan, Congressional Districts 9, 18, and 30—districts currently electing the candidates of choice of African-American voters—are not weakened, as they were in the state’s enacted plan. The court-drawn plan respects the cores of the district and does not split significant communities of interest, as the state plan did. The court’s drawing of these districts in a way that respects the integrity of the districts and complies with the Voting Rights Act makes even clearer the discriminatory intent that infected the drawing of minority districts in the state’s plan.
In the state’s enacted plan, Texas had purposefully destroyed a Congressional District 25, a multi-ethnic coalition district based in Austin. The state’s plan carved up East Austin, a historically significant African American community that had always been represented by a single representative, into multiple districts, in order to dilute the voting strength of African American voters in that area. The court’s plan retained the core of CD 25, and kept East Austin intact.
Finally, the court-drawn plan creates a new African-American opportunity district in Tarrant County, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area. After the 2010 Census, Texas gained 4 Congressional representatives because of population growth of the last decade—population growth that was almost entirely from increases in Latino and African-American population. Despite this fact, the congressional plan that Texas drew created no new African-American opportunity districts and no net increase in Latino opportunity districts. Congressional District 33 is majority-minority, with African-Americans constituting a strong plurality of the citizen voting age population. The drawing of Congressional District 33 is fair and complies with the Voting Rights Act, and will enable the minority community in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to elect a candidate of their choice.