Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Federal Court Gives Huge Victory (Temporary) to Texas Minorities Who Were Cheated in Redistricting

Waiting for the Supreme Court to Overturn the Entire Voting Rights Law

Both parties, when possible attempt to rig the voting process, but Republicans have made gerrymandering and voter suppression into an advanced art.  North Carolina, which is a state about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans will have a 10 to 3 Republican Congressional advantage after the fall elections, thanks to creative re-districting.  Tens of thousands, may hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of voters will be disenfranchised by Republican voter suppression laws.

In Texas the redistricting process has been found to be largely in violation of the Voting Rights Act, a civil rights era legislation designed to protect minorities from having their rights to representation completely eliminated by the redistricting process.

A federal court in Washington ruled on Tuesday that political maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in Texas discriminated against minority voters, a decision that black and Hispanic groups claimed as a victory and the state attorney general vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

So what are some of the tactics that the Republicans used to eliminate minority voting rights?  Well there is this.

The judges in Washington found that one largely Hispanic Congressional district in South Texas that includes Corpus Christi had its minority voting strength diluted when it was redrawn to a majority-Anglo district. In the 23rd Congressional District in West Texas, the judges ruled that drawers “consciously replaced many of the district’s active Hispanic voters with low-turnout Hispanic voters in an effort to strengthen the voting power of C.D. 23’s Anglo citizens,” reducing Hispanic voting power “without making it look like anything in C.D. 23 had changed.”

And there is this.

The judges found that the Congressional map as a whole was enacted with a “discriminatory purpose,” and they cited the concerns of black and Hispanic members of Congress who testified that they were excluded from the process of drafting the maps. In addition, several minority Congress members had the economic generators of their districts and their own district offices removed in the maps, though, as the judges pointed out, “no such surgery was performed on the districts of Anglo incumbents.”

So what does this mean for protecting minorities in the fall election?  Nothing.

It appears unlikely to affect the November elections because those electoral maps were drawn as interim replacements by a federal court in San Antonio. The interim maps were not at issue before the judges in Washington.

And in the long term the case will probably go to the Supreme Court, where a majority of judges will rule the Voting Rights Bill and its protections Unconstitutional.  Writing for the majority Justice Scalia will agree that the practices are discriminatory, but say that nothing in the Constitution forbids states engaging in discriminatory election processes.  Of course, Justice Scalia will be reading a different Constitution than the real one, he is reading the one that lives in the fantasy world of Justice Scalia’s minimal brain cells.

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