Judges rule that racial gerrymandering happened in Texas; scathing dissent calls out DOJ

A federal three-judge panel ruled late Friday in a 2-1 decision that Republican lawmakers had weakened the voting power of minorities by racially gerrymandering three of Texas’s congressional districts.

But the dissenting opinion may have revealed what was really at play when the Obama administration shoehorned itself into the case.

U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote a scathing dissent and accused Obama-era Justice Department lawyers who entered the case of discrimination themselves.

“It was obvious, from the start, that the DOJ attorneys viewed state officials and the legislative majority and their staffs as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots who bemoan the abolition of the poll tax and pine for the days of literacy tests and lynchings,” Smith wrote. “And the DOJ lawyers saw themselves as an expeditionary landing party arriving here, just in time, to rescue the state from oppression, obviously presuming that plaintiffs’ counsel were not up to the task.”

Yale Law educated Smith was, like the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

One of those three congressional districts — Texas’s 35th — is held by Democrat Rep. Lloyd Dogged.

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U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia — appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Xavier Rodriguez — appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the opinion, according to Fox News.

The opinion stated that the maps were re-drawn in 2011 amid “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities.”

Politically-motivated gerrymandering is permitted, so long as it doesn’t weaken the voting power of minorities.

“The political motive does not excuse or negate that use of race; rather, the use of race is ultimately problematic for precisely that reason — because of their political motive, they intentionally drew a district based on race in a location where such use of race was not justified by a compelling state interest,” the ruling said.

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“The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage.”

 

Nina Perales, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s lead counsel for the plaintiffs, was delighted with the decision.

“The court’s decision exposes the Texas Legislature’s illegal effort to dilute the vote of Texas Latinos,” Perales said. “Moving forward, the ruling will help protect Latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout.”

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PJ Media published a piece a while back listing what they thought were the 1- most gerrymandered congressional districts in the United States.

Of those, three were in Florida, and both North Carolina and Illinois were claimed to have two each.

None were in Texas.

When former Obama-appointed Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the ruling as a major victory, several tweeps had quick responses, some wondering if illegal immigrants were included in the mix.

At least one person claimed that the decision would mean little in the Lone Star State, given that it’s getting more and more Republican over time.

And another suggested that Hillary Clinton would have still come out the loser — but oddly believed Bernie Sanders would have been the victor.

Finally, one claimed that the practice of gerrymandering is worse on the Democratic side.

There is not yet word whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will appeal the court’s decision.

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