The Supreme Court’s decision late last week to halt the recently announced Texas election maps proposed by a three-judge panel in San Antonio is raising concerns over the impact it could have on the rights of Latino voters in the state.
The action is the most recent in the redistricting battle in Texas that started when several civil rights groups sued over the original election maps drawn by a Republican-led legislature earlier this year, claiming these diluted the minority vote and did not fairly account for the increased number of Latinos in the population.
“Six judges have looked at this evidence in different ways and they all have come to the same conclusion,” said Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. “After a very long and deliberate trial, all three judges [in San Antonio] rejected the state of Texas’s approach. They were unanimous in the fact that Texas denied minorities the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.”
As previously reported by La Plaza, the proposed plan by the three-panel had the potential to increase minority districts and give Latinos a better chance of electing their preferred candidate. Texas gained the most congressional seats as a result of the 2010 Census, due in large part to the growth of Latinos.
“The facts of this case that are undisputed are that Texas grew by four million people in 10 years, and 90 percent of that growth was minority, and 65 percent of that growth was Latino,” Martinez Fischer said.
Observers, including the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, say they will continue to keep a watchful eye for the results of the redistricting plans.
“Right now, all eyes are on Texas, because Texas had the biggest growth in congressional seats because of the dramatic growth in the Latino population,” said Rosalind Gold, Senior Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy at NALEO. “We are urging the Supreme Court to move quickly on this and to affirm the lower court’s maps so that Latinos in Texas can have a strong voice in the primary election.”