Texans file federal suit to halt use of 2010 Census for redistricting

U.S. Congressional Districts, Texas

SHERMAN- Three Texas registered voters are asking a federal court to declare that the 2010 Census data is inaccurate for purposes of the state's redistricting and reapportionment.

Kaaren Teuber, Jim K. Burg and Ricky L. Grunden filed a federal lawsuit on Feb. 10 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

The defendants named in the suit are the state of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus, Secretary of State Hope Andrade, Chair of the Texas Democratic Party Boyde Richie, Chair of the Texas Republican Party Steve Munisteri, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Director of the Census Bureau Robert Grooves.

According to the lawsuit, the 2010 U.S. Census population figures entitle Texas to 36 Congressional representatives, an addition of four reps since the 2000 Census. However, the registered voters argue that the 2010 Census included undocumented immigrants, which could cause a redistricting that would strengthen the Hispanic vote.

The lawsuit argues that this would violate the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment, the Voting Rights Act and the Texas Constitution.

"This Court's intervention is necessary to ensure that nondiscriminatory population calculations are used in Texas to enact new U.S. Congressional, State Senate, State House, and State Board of Education Districts during the current legislative session," the lawsuit states.

The suit contends that the Census includes undocumented immigrants who "tend to reside in larger populations in areas where Hispanic citizens also reside," like the 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses not only San Antonio but also several counties along the Mexican border.

"Because the undocumented immigrants in the Twenty-Third District cannot vote, the eligible voting population in the Twenty-Third District is disproportionately smaller than the eligible voting population in a Congressional District with a smaller population of undocumented immigrants," the suit states.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs' districts -- the 4th, which is in north east Texas and borders Oklahoma and Arkansas, and the 26th, which includes Fort Worth -- each has a smaller population of undocumented immigrants than the 23rd.

"As a result, the strength of Plaintiffs' votes in the Fourth and Twenty-Sixth Districts might be diluted when compared with the citizens' votes in the Twenty-Third District," the suit states. "This violates Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

"Further, the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Census might have the purpose and effect of strengthening the Hispanic vote, and if so this practice could violate the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and Article I, Sections 3, 3a, 19, and 29 of the Texas Constitution."

The suit claims that if the Texas Legislature fails to enact new congressional, state senate and state house redistricting plans during its session, "then the court's intervention may be necessary to protect the plaintiffs' federal and state rights to cast an undiluted vote" for Congress, the Texas State Senate, the State House of Representatives and the State Board of Education.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to:

  • Assume jurisdiction over the action and convene a three-judge court;
  • Declare that the use of inaccurate census data for purposes of reapportionment and redistricting denies plaintiffs their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and federal law;
  • Grant preliminary and permanent injunctive relief restraining and enjoining the state defendants from using the inaccurate 2010 Census population counts for reapportionment of Texas Congressional, State Senate, State House, and State School Board Districts;
  • Order into effect an adjustment of the 2010 census population by federal defendants or state defendants to be used in the reapportionment;
  • Declare the current Texas Congressional, State Senate, State House, and State School Board Districts to be unconstitutional and of no further force and effect;
  • Enjoin the use of the current Texas Congressional, State Senate, State House, and State School Board Districts in future elections;
  • Award reasonable attorneys fees, including costs and fees and expenses

    The plaintiffs are represented by Michael S. Hull of Hull Henricks LLP in Austin.

    U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

    Case No. 4:11-cv-00059
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