A panel of three federal judges has ruled that Texas Republicans deliberately drew state congressional districts to “waste Latino votes,” in yet another judicial rebuke of the state’s increasingly overturned election laws.
In a 2–1 ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found that state Republicans deliberately shaped districts in counties such as El Paso, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Bexar so that they would dilute the voting power of people of color, the Dallas Morning News reported late Thursday afternoon. The decision—issued in a 171-page ruling—becomes the latest in a string of judicial defeats for Texas Republicans, who in March saw a similar decision from the same panel of judges. That ruling invalidated three U.S. House districts the court claimed had been drawn to discriminate against voters of color in a “rushed and secretive process.”
Earlier this month, federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that Texas’ voter ID law—also passed in 2011—“had a discriminatory impact” largely affecting minority communities.
“Republicans dealt Texas a deep moral wound. They haven’t just been cheating to gain an edge in a political game. They’ve been deliberately holding back Texans from having a voice in their own government—a voice that affects every aspect of our lives,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a written statement.
Texas Republicans are not alone in facing judicial scrutiny over voting. In a similar ruling in North Carolina, a three-judge panel declared that Republican lawmakers used race as a “predominant factor [that] motivating the drawing of all challenged districts.” A trio of federal judges also ruled that North Carolina’s voter ID law was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
It remains to be seen what the immediate outcome of the court’s ruling will be. As the Austin American-Statesman notes, the judges did not offer a specific prescription for how best to address the racial gerrymandering.