TPM Muckraker has the story, DOJ: Rick Perry’s Texas Redistricting Plan Purposefully Discriminated Against Minorities.
The Justice Department said late Friday that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to 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 of choice to Congress.”
DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is specifically contesting the changes made to Texas Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice.
They say they need more information on the congressional plan to determine what the purpose of the redistricting plan was for sure. But the federal agency came out stronger against the state House of Representatives plan, which they flat out said “violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in that it was 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 of choice to the Texas House of Representatives.”
The filing can be read here, and the part about HD-149 is on page 6, but here’s what was written:
House District 149: Under the existing plan, House District 149 is located in Harris County and encompasses the Alief community in the City of Houston, Texas. The district has a combined minority-citizen voting-age population of 61.3 percent and has elected a Vietnamese-American legislator, Hubert Vo, since 2004 despite the presence of racially polarized voting. In the proposed plan, House District 149 will move to Williamson County in central Texas, and it will have a combined minority-citizen voting-age population of less than 23 percent.
The United States has not yet reached any conclusion about this district’s performance, and its investigation is on-going. As a result, District 149 remains at issue, and there is the potential for a net loss of the ability to elect one additional candidate of choice to the House on account of race or color or membership in a language minority group.
That’s a significant change in minority citizen voting age population, by moving the district from Harris County to Williamson County. This may slow down the coronation that was already being planned here some in Williamson County for HD-149. Kuff says this is “game on” and has much more on this and the DOJ’s filing on Texas’ so-called Voter ID law, DOJ says redistricting plans purposely discriminated.
The State House districts that DOJ singled out were 33, 35, 41, 117, and 149. The other intervenors in the case – State Sen. Wendy Davis and State Rep. Marc Veasey; MALC; Greg Gonzales (I don’t know who that is); the Texas Legislative Black Caucus; the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force; and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches – agreed with DOJ about all of these districts and added quite a few more of their own, with some detailed objections in Dallas, Tarrant, and Harris Counties, among others. A copy of the DOJ doc is here, and I recommend you read it – it’s not very long, and isn’t particularly legalistic. If nothing else, see why the state of Texas will likely never hire Dr. John Alford as an expert witness again, at least not while the Republicans are still in charge. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 2 on the state’s motion for summary judgment.
In related news, the Justice Department also had some questions about the voter ID law.
It’s going to be a while longer before we know for certain what these districts will look like. The Voter ID filing may cause these new voter ID laws in Texas to be put on hold through the 2012 election season.