A redistricting plan signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled Tuesday. The judges found that seats belonging to white incumbent members of Congress were protected under the plan while districts belonging to incumbent minorities were targeted for changes.
The court was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent,” according to the ruling. There was “sufficient evidence to conclude that the Congressional Plan was motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent,” the court found.
The three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the congressional redistricting plan was intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”
All three redistricting plans — for Texas’ congressional delegation, its state House of Representatives and the state Senate — were blocked by the federal court. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that interim maps drawn by a federal court were invalid.
The panel of three judges found that “surgery” had been performed on congressional districts belonging to minority members of Congress while no such alterations were made to districts belonging to incumbent white members of Congress.
“Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren,” the judges wrote.
That country club reference is tied to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the House Oversight Committee that oversees the Justice Department. A lawyer for Smith had requested that a country club be moved out of a Hispanic district and into his.
Additionally, the court was “troubled by the unchallenged evidence that the legislature removed the economic guts from the Black ability districts,” which caused economic harm to minority districts.