Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has decided to carry the state’s fight for racial gerrymandering to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Paxton’s move, announced on Friday, challenges a ruling earlier in the week by two federal judges in San Antonio that two of the state’s 36 congressional districts were intentionally drawn to block Latino voters from electing the candidates of their choice.
Unfortunately, the state’s effort to preserve discriminatory congressional boundaries comes as no surprise. District 103 Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, notes that seven times since 2011, federal courts have found the state guilty of intentional racial discrimination when drawing districts.
States such as Texas, which previously needed federal approval to change their voting laws, have found it increasingly easy to suppress minority voting rights since the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder ended that “preclearance” requirement under the Voting Rights Act.
The Texas Tribune reports that the state acknowledges that extreme gerrymandering took place during the 2011 redistricting process; but officials argue that new boundaries were drawn primarily out of partisan considerations.
In fact, the challenged districts are the latest in a long string of unabashed attempts by the Legislature to strip black and Latino Americans of their rights.
In April, for example, a federal judge ruled that a Texas voter ID law was enacted with the intent to prevent people of color from voting.
More recently, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court overturned a Texas law that harshly restricted the ability of voters to use interpreters at the ballot box. The judges said such laws unduly burden minority-language citizens, who comprise millions of Texas households.
As Texas prepares to fight in the Supreme Court for Republican lawmakers’ ability to diminish the voices of black and Latino Americans, we must fight to protect the foundational principle of our democracy: one person, one vote.
Until other states follow the the path set by California and allow the people to draft their own districts through publicly accountable independent redistricting commissions, elected officials will continue to develop new, insidious methods to exclude voters, particularly those of color, from the democratic process.
We simply cannot allow lawmakers to continue desecrate our democracy through these discriminatory techniques.
Issues: Voting and Elections