The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out part of a Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.
The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents out of office.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said Hispanics do not have a chance to elect a candidate of their choosing under the plan.
Republicans picked up six Texas congressional seats two years ago, and the court’s ruling does not seriously threaten those gains. Lawmakers, however, will have to adjust boundary lines to address the court’s concerns.
At issue was the shifting of 100,000 Hispanics out of a district represented by a Republican incumbent 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.
Republicans had said the new map better reflected the voting patterns of the state and denied that minority voting rights were violated.
The map in question was steered through the Legislature by DeLay, who left Congress June 9 amid legal and ethical troubles, some stemming from the redistricting fight.
The new map gave Texas its first congressional delegation with a Republican majority since Reconstruction. The delegation has 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Under the previous boundaries, Democrats dominated 17-15.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
SCOTUS TOSSES PART OF TEXAS REDISTRICTING PLAN
An interesting ruling. The Associated Press reports:
Not a big win for Dems. Justice said Texas was within its rights when it redrew district boundaries twice after the 2000 census.