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Court again finds voter discrimination

21 April 2017

According to the ruling, legislators reduced the number of house districts in Harris County, even though minority population growth argued for the creation of new seats.

The ruling found similar discrimination in five other counties across the state: Dallas, Bexar, el Paso, Nueces, and bell. It is likely Texas will appeal those cases, given its history of fighting voting rights decision against it tooth-and-nail, meaning that the Supreme Court may get to weigh in on the state's relationship with the Voting Right Act.

"In almost every instance since the 1970s Supreme Court decision in White v. Regester, the Texas Legislature has drawn electoral maps in violation of the Constitutional protections against discrimination and the Voting Rights Act", Anchia said in a statement. He noted the 2011 redistricting Texas House maps were superseded by new maps in 2013, referencing a remark by the dissenting judge in the case referencing that.

"Plaintiffs will ... discuss next steps in ensuring that these violations are corrected before the 2018 elections", said Allison Riggs, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

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Democratic state Rep. Scott Inman says he will run for Oklahoma governor next year after serving as the leader of the House Democratic caucus for seven years.

"Today's ruling on the state House map proved what we've known all along - Republicans in the Legislature cynically and intentionally divided minority voters so Republicans could enhance their power", said Grand Prairie's Rep. Chris Turner, head of the House Democratic Caucus. "This is shameful and unacceptable".

"As 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith observed in his dissent, the challenge to the old 2011 maps are not only moot but 'a finding that racial considerations were dominant and controlling defies everything about this record, '" he said.

"Despite its heartfelt efforts, this panel majority has badly overreached in finding that Texas used race, instead of partisan advantage, as the predominant factor in the 2011 redistricting", Smith wrote.

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Late Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement in response to the ruling. "We are confident we will ultimately prevail in this case".

Earlier this month, federal Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that Texas' voter ID law-also passed in 2011-"had a discriminatory impact" largely affecting minority communities.

The panel included two Republican appointees.

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Court again finds voter discrimination