Redistricting Case Could Put Texas Back Under Federal Supervision

At issue is whether the state drew up its most recent political maps with the intent to discriminate against minority voters.

Texas graphic

Federal judges in San Antonio continue to hear arguments, in a lawsuit charging Texas discriminated against Latinos and African Americans in the latest round of redistricting.

The basic question before the three-judge panel is: Did Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminate on the basis of race when they drew up state House and congressional maps after the 2010 census? If the answer is yes, the state could find itself in a familiar position.

“We’d go back to the situation where Texas can’t change any of its election procedures without first preclearing that with the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington,” says Teddy Rave, an assistant professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center. “Rather than having plaintiffs, racial minority groups, have to prove that there’s a discriminatory purpose or a discriminatory effect, the burden is then on the state to prove that there’s not.”

Such federal oversight was automatic for nearly 40 years, until the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Rave says that shifting the burden of proof back to the state would give minority groups extra leverage in drawing maps after the 2020 Census. But in the near term, it would do little to dent GOP majorities either in Austin or in the Texas congressional delegation.


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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