AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton disagreed
with a ruling made by federal judges claiming Republican lawmakers used
gerrymandering when redrawing congressional district lines and lessening the
voting power of minorities.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
Documented in a 194-page opinion, The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas stated Republican-controlled
legislation passed in 2011 had drawn lines which discriminated against Black
and Hispanics voters. The opinion cited districts in south and west Texas, and
the boundaries of north Texas as examples of gerrymandering.
In a 2-1 decision, the judges stated the mapmakers were in
violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment for
diluting the voting strength of minorities with intentional dilution in the Dallas,
Fort Worth, and El Paso areas.
The ruling invalidates the districts in question. At the
time, the judges have not suggested a remedy for the situation.
Judges Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia wrote in the
opinion, “The Court finds that
this evidence persuasively demonstrates that mapdrawers intentionally packed
[concentrated certain populations] and cracked [diluted certain populations] on
the basis of race (using race as a proxy for voting behavior) with the intent
to dilute minority voting strength.”
However, Judge Jerry Smith of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court, who
split the decision, had a dissenting opinion stating, "The
Department of Justice has overplayed its hand and, in the process, has lost
credibility," Smith wrote. "The wound is self-inflicted. The grand
theory on which its intervention was mainly based—that invidious racial motives
infect and predominate in the drawing of the 2011 district lines—has crashed
and burned. I respectfully dissent from the refusal to dismiss for want of
“We respectfully disagree with the redistricting panel’s
majority decision," Paxton said in a press release. "As 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith observed in his dissent,
the challenge to the old 2011 maps - which were never in effect - is moot. The
maps currently in use are not the ones adopted by the Texas Legislature in
2011, which are the subject of the court’s opinion.”
continued, “The Legislature adopted the court drawn 2012 maps in 2013. The
court was under a direct order from the Supreme Court to draw lawful districts.
The adoption of those maps in 2013 mooted any issue with the 2011 maps. There
are no lines to redraw. Accordingly, we are confident we will prevail in