Judges Say Texas Can’t Move Forward With Redistricting Plans The Feds Say Are Discriminatory

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September 30, 2011 10:30 a.m.
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A panel of three federal judges ordered Texas not to move forward with redistricting plans for both congressional and state legislative seats until they are approved in court.

Justice Department lawyers have declared in court that they believe the congressional and statehouse redistricting plans signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry have been adopted at least in part for the purpose of “diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates.”

They’ve argued that regardless of intent, the plans would have the effect of diminishing the ability of Hispanic voters to pick their preferred candidates.

A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio ruled that Texas should wait until the courts rule on the legality of the maps. In San Antonio, the panel of judges has heard testimony about the maps but hasn’t ruled on their legality, while the D.C. panel — charged with deciding whether to preclear the maps — won’t hold hearings for a month, according to the Texas Tribune. The court in San Antonio is handling a separate suit filed by opponents of the plan, while court in D.C. is handling the suit involving the Justice Department.

“According to the Texas Election Code, any changes that must be made in the county election precinct boundaries ‘to give effect to a redistricting plan’ must be finalized by October 1, 2011,” the judges wrote, according to the Texas Tribune. “Because the redistricting plans have not been precleared … all persons or entities that would otherwise have a duty under Section 42.032 of the Texas Election Code are relieved of those duties until further order of the Court.”

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