In a much-anticipated ruling, a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio has invalidated two of the state’s 36 congressional districts. The ruling represents the sixth time this decade that Texas electoral districts have been invalidated by federal courts, based on findings of intentional discrimination.
Districts 27 and 35, held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett and Republican Blake Farenthold, must be redrawn, the court said – either by state lawmakers or a federal court. The court did not order the redrawing of another disputed district, House District 23, where Republican Will Hurd currently serves.
Michael Li, a Texas native and senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program at New York University School of Law, says partisan redistricting is nothing new, and that both Democrats and Republicans have practiced it. But he says the Texas GOP’s mapmaking this decade has “gone off the deep end,” especially as demographics in the state have changed. Gaining partisan advantage has come primarily at the expense of Texas’ growing population of people of color, he says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.