The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday upheld much of a Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader
But it ruled that some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.
In a fractured decision, the court ruled that state lawmakers may draw new maps as often as they like -- not just once a decade as Texas Democrats claimed. That means Democratic and Republican state lawmakers can push through new maps anytime there is a power
shift at a state capital.
A majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "We reject the statewide challenge to Texas redistricting as an unconstitutional political gerrymander."
But the ruling also found that the state's 2003 redrawing of District 23 violated the Voting Rights Act. That district is represented by Republican Henry Bonilla.
The boundary changes shifted 100-thousand Hispanics from the
district and into a new, oddly shaped district. Justices had been told that was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander under the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights.
The GOP picked up six Texas congressional seats two years ago,
and the court's ruling doesn't seriously threaten those gains. Lawmakers, however, will have to adjust boundary lines to address
the court's concerns.
U.S. Representative Chet Edwards released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Texas redistricting plan:
"The 17th District, which I represent, was never a focus of the Supreme Court case, and this decision should leave our district unchanged. Until the courts finalize a new Texas redistricting plan, I intend to continue working hard for our district.
While the Supreme Court said mid-decade redistricting is not prohibited by the Constitution, I intend to introduce legislation in Congress to prohibit states from redistricting more than once a decade. The Tom DeLay redistricting plan in Texas has created divisiveness in the state
legislature, cost Texas taxpayers millions of dollars and created confusion and uncertainty for communities that continues five years after redistricting should have been completed in 2001. Neither Texas nor other states should have to pay such a high price in the future for partisan motivated, mid-decade redistricting, regardless of which party is in control."
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